Orchard seventh grader, Thomas, spent part of his spring break helping communities in Guatemala with the nonprofit organization, Free To Smile
. This organization is dedicated to supporting and sustaining comprehensive, high-quality surgical and dental services to poor and underprivileged children and adolescents.
Thomas’s father, Matthew, is a Free To Smile board member and felt Thomas was at an age where he could gain tremendous perspective from this experience. Thomas worked with children at the local hospital and provided Art Class instruction. He also helped tidy up the hospital with some much-needed facility improvements (painting and small building improvement projects of the like).
Here are some daily summaries that Thomas kept during his time in Guatemala:
I was woken up at 3:45 AM by my dad's friend. I was staying at their condo downtown because of its short distance to Riley Hospital where my dad was because he was on call the night before. Once I was able to meet up with my dad we left for the airport. After a delayed flight due to the bad storms, and a long day of travel, we arrived in Guatemala City. We finally reached our hotel at midnight which is 2 AM in Indianapolis.
I am woken up early by my father and tiredly take in the rustic style of our hotel. I go through the normal tasks of waking up but am very careful not to accidentally ingest water from the sink or shower, for doing so could leave me very sick. My day consists of helping at the orphanage and observing operations while providing assistance as much as I can. During the day, I met a 4-month-old girl named Sofia. This poor girl was the only one in her family who had a cleft lip and palate. Her mother traveled a total of 7 hours by bus for treatment. This truly shows how important our work is to the people of Guatemala.
Generator mishap: Joe is from Canada and has been working with surgical teams in Guatemala for 16 years. Today, the wires on our generator overheated and shorted out which knocked out the power in the operating rooms. Joe rebuilt the cables in the electrical box with materials found on hand. It took a total of 2 hours. Without him we would have lost an entire day of surgery.
Yeison Eduardo is a four-month-old little boy who came in for surgery today. He is unfortunate enough to be the only one in his family with a cleft lip and palate. He traveled a total of eight hours to receive treatment. Because of Free to Smile, Yeison now has a normal lip.
Thomas would sincerely like to thank the Orchard community for their generous donations of baby bottles, baby wipes, baby shampoo and lotion, cloth diapers and art supplies such as colored paper, colored pencils, tape, glue, etc. They went to a great cause!