This has been another busy week at the CURE hospital. We had a cleft lip camp, which started on Sunday and is now winding down. A group of doctors from Switzerland came to help out, and most of the patients have come through Sentinelles. It is great having so many little kids running around the hospital, laughing and playing.
On the first or second day of camp, Hassane and I were walking through the ward, and it was full of the kids that were recovering from surgery. They were pitiful-looking, all swollen lips, tears and drool. But most of them seemed to be taking it well, and a few even managed a smile, or as much of a smile as their swollen faces would permit. But one of them, Sagirou, was crying. He was a bit younger than the others, and it seemed like he just didn’t want to be in there anymore. We asked him if he was in pain, and he said no, but just kept crying. Hassane picked him up and started walking around with him, and he calmed down a little, so we asked if he could come out with us for a bit. The nurses said ok, so Hassane put him down and we walked out into the sun.
As soon as we got outside, Sagirou stopped crying. He was still sniffling a bit, but he seemed a lot happier. We walked over towards the patient guesthouse, where all the other kids who haven’t been operated on yet were waiting, and they ran towards us in a big group. They got right up to us and suddenly stopped in their tracks when they saw Sagirou. He was one of the first to be operated on, and they were all shocked to see the way he looked. Just the day before he had been with them, running and playing and a part of the group. But now something had changed, he was different, and they kept their distance. Still, they were totally fascinated by him and couldn’t take their eyes off of him. They were whispering to each other, and pointing at him, and finally one of them came forward and said, “Don’t cry Sagirou.” At that point he smiled, and they all ran forward and surrounded him. They were laughing, and he was laughing, and they were all talking at the same time. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it seemed a lot like, “What is it like over there! Tell us everything! Look at your lips!”
It was so cool to see their reaction to Sagirou. They were excited and full of hope. They knew they were coming to the hospital to be “cured” but I am not sure if they really knew what that meant. I don’t think they really thought they would be so completely transformed. I think it boosted their spirits a lot, and gave them something to look forward to. Even though it is scary going into surgery, now at least they know that it is worth it. These kids are so brave – they travel hundreds of kilometers, without their parents and come to a strange place where strangers do strange things to them. But they take it all in stride, they are remarkably well-behaved, and they are really, really cute. It will be sad to see them go, but cool to think about what their friends and family will say once they get home.
Here are a few more pictures: