Heading Home – Ethiopia Spring 2019

We certainly finished the week on a high note! Yes, it has been a challenging mission in some respects, but we are constantly reminded of all the good that can come of it. This was never more evident than with our last two patients on the last day of surgeries. Both are teenage boys with severe facial deformities, who have experienced a lifetime of shame…. up until now.

One of those young men is 15-year old Ayeengida, born with a severe bilateral cleft lip. His caring and anxious older brother told us that Ayeengida has never been to school because he was too ashamed, and even would hide when extended family came to visit. All he wants, he says, is to go to school. He and his brother nervously waited all day, and their excitement was contagious! When it was time for Ayeengida to go with nurse Ana to the operating room, we were all smiling and laughing and cheering.
The surgery went very well, and the difference apparent immediately. When Ayeengida woke after surgery, we held up a mirror to his face. His eyes widened, then filled with tears, and he just stared at himself, shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe it. The room erupted in cheers as we wheeled him out to the waiting area and to his brother. When asked what he wanted to do next, Ayeengida immediately said “go to school,” followed by “I want to be a doctor.” More happy tears were shed by everyone in the room. No more shame, and a life full of promise for the future.

What a fabulous and emotional finish to an incredible week! 136 children screened, 58 surgeries performed, and so many lives changed forever. We are tired, we could use some more sleep, we are excited to come home, AND we eagerly look forward to returning to this beautiful country and people in November 2019.

See more photos from Ethiopia on Flickr