Today the team took a break from surgeries and participated in an all day “Scientific Program.” The program was organized and sponsored by the plastic surgery department of Sohag University and took place on an island across from our Hotel in Sohag. The panelists included the four Rotaplast surgeons (Angelo Capozzi, Granger Wong, Ron Gemberling, Don Larossa) , our Speech Pathologist, Barbara Saffer, as well as presentations by our head anesthesiologist, PACU nurse, Paula Fillari; Dr. Al Goldberg, and Dr. Alex Habel, our two pediatricians, and our dentist-orthodontist, Mabel Garcia, who came all the way from Uruguay to participate in this mission. Five Egyptian doctors also made presentations. The program was attended by the Governor of Sohag, and several foreign dignitaries.
While the medical professionals discussed the technicalities of cleft palate surgery, the non-medical volunteers were whisked off to see the sites around Sohag. Sohag is known for having a sizable Christian community. About 35% of the population is Coptic Christian. The Coptic Orthodox church is the oldest form of Christianity. Thirteen volunteers were taken by the Rotary club of Sohag to two monasteries, the Red Monastery and the White Monastery. At the Red Monastery, the team was able to see a church service in process. The priest was preaching in the ancient Coptic language. He graciously welcomed the volunteers in English afterward and allowed us to take pictures of the church and his vestments. Then, after a box lunch we toured the Abydos temple, a very impressive example of the extensive pharaonic carvings on every inch of wall.
To top off this already culturally rich day, the volunteers reunited in the evening and attended a cultural show. A folkloric dancing troop did three very intense dances for the team, and then allowed them to leave early so they could turn in for a few hours of sleep before another long day of surgery.