The help of the local Addis Rotaract Clubs and its members can't be emphasized enough. They were always available, whether they were translating, filling out forms, contacting patients, or sorting out computers. All of the Cure Hospital staff were very kind and generous towards us. Our bus driver Fekadu was always gracious and accommodating for our various whims, wishes and late nights.
On the bus ride to the hospital on Wednesday, September 26, the last day of the mission, Angelo remarked that this was a bittersweet moment. We are looking forward to returning home to be with our family and friends, but we feel as though we have made new friends here that we are going to miss. Each patient and their families have shared stories with us. Sometimes when we are sharing a child's story with each other, we have to pause for a moment. Just imagining a life and circumstances so different from what we take for granted, is difficult. The faith that the families and the older children place in our hands before an operation is humbling. I have watched some of the surgeries being performed, and am totally impressed with the skills of the surgeons and nurses and what they are able to accomplish.
I have often heard the term "life changing" used regarding participating in a mission. Perhaps the mission puts in focus what is important in life. The real life changing events will start for our patients when they leave the hospital. Now they will be able to go to school and not be restricted to the life of a shepherd, or some other lonely occupation. They may feel more comfortable in social situations, no longer being called a “Mincheram” or an "odd face" by others. Because of the surgery, they will be able to eat, speak more clearly, have less nasal and ear infections, and perhaps even get married. That’s life changing.