Romania 2015 – Day 3
Romania is one of Europe’s former communist countries with a very high number of institutionalized orphans . Botosani county’s Child Protection Agency oversees close to 1200 orphans that are placed either in apartments, foster homes or family-style placement. These kids sometimes look at pretty bleak futures if measures are not taken to educate them early in the spirit of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Life in an orphanage is tough, the “every-man-for-himself” mentality setting in at a very early age. “These children are the result of the society we live in, so we have a responsibility to take care of them together” said the Director of the Child Protection. “We want to collaborate and see if Medical Missions Foundation could help supplement some of our recurring needs, such as buying bed sheets, socks, pajamas, things that get used up and need replacing every once in a while. We would greatly appreciate it and so would the children”
Today, a few of our mission volunteers and our local collaborators visited the “Little Prince” complex that houses 60 orphans with physical and mental disabilities, spread among 5 houses. Their ages range from a few months to 18 years old and, according to our collaborators, they often fall at the bottom of the Government’s budget list. The kids survive through basic government subsidies and some community funding. One of them, a toddler, has a rare disease, bullous epidermolysis, which causes him to bruise and bleed every time something touches his skin. He is currently in the hospital, being treated for infection, but he serves as an example of the major disabilities seen in this small orphan complex.
The Romania team members performed detailed physicals on each and every child, assessing any immediate and long-term medical needs. The team, led by Ken Conde our mission director, found one child that will undergo surgery on Thursday by our ENT surgeon, Dr. Hechler.
The orphanage manager’s name is Micsunela and she is a very passionate woman, relentlessly reaching out to the community and NGO’s to help her kids. She talks about them with compassion and love. She partnered with the local schools to bring students to the orphanages and volunteer with the disabled children. She asks parents to fund raise or gather supplies so she can continue to care for the orphans. She let our Romania mission leaders know that the orphanage is in dire need of bed sets for their 72 beds; they haven’t replaced the current ones for a long time. During the consults, the Medical Mission Foundation volunteers noticed the precarious condition that the current bed sets were in. Some were torn, some were almost see-through, some sewn together many times over. We want to make a difference and we are taking baby steps, starting with the acquisition of the 72 bed sets for now.
Back in the OR, Dr. Hechler our ENT/Plastics surgeon had another busy day, with 7 surgeries completed at the end of the day. One of his highlights was a month old baby named David with polidactyly, namely a 6th toe that Dr. Hechler removed during an hour long surgery. David will walk normally as he grows, He will be able to run and put on shoes without any trouble. The clinic was steadily busy; we officially ran out of our 400 clinic sheets printed before the mission started and printed another 300. Dr Heddings, our orthopod, saw patients in the clinic with Dr Araiza, after which he joined the Romanian orthopod, Dr. Malancea, at the Adult hospital for two major surgeries. One of the purposes of our mission is to emphasize collaboration with our local Romanian counterparts so we can achieve a true exchange of experience on top of our daily surgical and clinic activities. Dr Heddings often states that it’s amazing what the Romanians can do with limited supplies and equipment, so there’s a lot of medical know-how to be passed along between the Romanian and the American doctors.
Tomorrow is Wednesday and we already have 8 surgeries scheduled for our ENT surgeon Dr. Hechler, and a full day of orthopedic surgeries for Dr. Heddings and Dr. Malancea. The clinic foresees another steady busy day as the local press continues to cover our mission daily in the radio, local and national television and in the papers.
As the last day of the mission approaches, our volunteers make the best every second to make sure the impact of our humanitarian activity lasts even after we leave Botosani.
The amazing photos from the Romania Mission are provided by Vlad Catana.
You can follow his work at www.facebook.com/VladCatanaPh
Click on an image for larger gallery view.