Thursday, November 22, 2007

OpSmile Mission - Day 7

Wednesday was another day of surgeries. As the week wore on, we started doing more of the adult surgeries and the more complicated children's surgeries. As usual, I spent some time in Medical Records and the rest of the day in either the pre-op or post-op rooms with the kids.

I took this picture of me with one of the kids in the pre-op playroom. He was quite intrigued when I showed him the image on the camera, so I decided to show him some of the other pictures I had. He LOVED all the pictures I had of cats! He would start giggling when we came across those!

One of the things that I liked about the mission in Tetouan was that it was a "local mission" as opposed to an "international mission." What is the difference, you ask? An international mission, such as the one in Casablanca, is comprised of a team of credentialed medical professionals from around the world who travel to a mission site in one of our 25 partner countries to treat children, usually for a two-week time frame. An international mission is organized through our Norfolk headquarters with the help and support of the Operation Smile Foundation in the host country. A local mission, on the other hand, is organized by the OpSmile Foundation in the country and teams of in-country medical volunteers conduct local programs to take care of more of their children. This means that the team in Tetouan was almost entirely comprised of Moroccan volunteers. I think the team roster showed 45 Moroccans, 5 or 6 Americans, and a couple Europeans. By comparison, the team in Casablanca had about 30 Americans, and the rest of the team was made up of volunteers from around the world, including Britain, South Africa, Australia, France, Jordan, and Ireland.
Me with Ismail and Aicha, both from Morocco.

I'm sure both models provide an unbelievable opportunity to meet a variety of fascinating people, but I personally really enjoyed being immersed in a situation with so many local volunteers. They were able to provide so much insight to local culture and customs and language. It was obvious that they were proud of their country and wanted to share it with us in every way that they could. They were also very helpful in advising what a taxi ride SHOULD cost (as opposed to what the driver would try to charge us!), and in bargaining for goods when shopping in the medina! But most of all it was great to make new friends from a completely different culture than our own. I think that if everyone had the opportunity to spend a few weeks in a Muslim culture, it would go a long way toward creating a better understanding in the world.

Wednesday evening we had a pizza party and bonfire right on the beach at our timeshare! It was a wonderful evening and a great way to blow off some steam. The pizza was ordered from Pizza're never far from America, no matter where you go! Mohammed, Ismail, me, Jemma, and Paul.

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