Almost three weeks after returning from Colombia, I am finally getting a chance to process the experience - since getting back, I have been overwhelmed trying to catch up with work at my practice, while at the same time teaching at a Facial Plastic Surgery conference in NYC.
In many ways, it has been difficult adjusting back to "real life." The incredible emotions of the trip, the exhaustion of traveling so far and working so hard, still lingers ... not to say anything of the residual effects of having stayed in a third world foreign country (my stomach hasn't been the same!). By any estimation, this was a tremendously busy trip. Over the course of a week, we screened close to 200 children, and performed well over a hundred surgical procedures on 65 patients.
I want to once again express my heartfelt gratitude to all of the team members. Everyone absolutely worked their butts off, and despite 18 hour days, provided the highest level of care. The selfless nature of team members and the camaraderie during this mission was beyond anything I could have expected - and, I truly hope I earned my title as the "nicest slave driver"! The volunteer organizers of UNIMA who provided for us while we were in Santa Marta also deserve a tremendous amount of credit.
In the end, this effort was all about the children. Words can not describe how wonderful it is to make a difference in these kids lives, to inspire hope that there are people in the world who care. For that, I am indebted to all who made this mission possible, especially those in our local community. I will be leaving on a mission to Guatemala shortly, and I am planning a fundraiser to benefit Healing the Children this Spring, to support another mission from our area. To be continued ...