Sunday, July 8, 2012


I leave for Dipolog City, Mindanoa, Philippines in 5 days!! The foundation I am traveing with is the INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S SURGICAL FOUNDATION ( Dr. Geoff Williams, plastic surgeon and founder of ICSF will be doing cleft lip and palate surgeries in Dipolog City for 2 1/2 weeks while we're there doing speech therapy for 2 weeks.

I leave Thursday for L.A. where I'll visit some friends for one night, prior to my 15 hour flight to Manila which leaves Friday evening! I arrive Sunday, July 15th- crossing the international date line puts us a day ahead!

Susan Stempel, a speech pathologist and good friend of mine, will be meeting me in Manila (she's traveling in China right now!) We will be doing 2 weeks of intensive speech therapy with children (maybe adults!) with cleft palate who have had their palate surgeries- but no speech therapy! The only speech therapists are in Manila (many hundreds of miles and islands north!)and only families with financial resources can access any speech therapy. The families and beautiful children we will work with would not have access to the surgery or the therapy if not for mission trips like this one! The families are very poor and they have often waited a long time to have the surgery for their children. But most children with repaired cleft palates, even here in the US need speech therapy to correct the speech issues associated with this birth defect. We will try and see the children everyday, some of them 2 times a day, for the time we are there. We won't know how many children we will see until Monday! It's often hard to reach the families since many have no phones and live in some remote areas. We're ready for anything!

We have been collecting books (thank you Mary, Suzanna and the Montoya family), Beanie Babies, toys (thanks to my nieces- Abby, Rachel, Hannah, Alyssa, Jessie, Ava and Katie), markers, paper, and stickers! The children all receive a Stuffed Animal on day of screening or when they start speech therapy- you see them holding on tight to that little gift while recovering from surgery in the pediatric ward! The books are looked at/read over and over again! We have to take paperback books for the weight added to our luggage; some of them are already "well read" by the time they leave the hospital! Simple things most of our children take for granted are so special to them! The smile on their face when they realize they get to keep the book or little car- is worth the trip over!

I'll add more as I head out...thanks again for all of those who have sent good wishes and prayers for a save and successful mission!!
And a special "thank you" to my web designer who also set up this BLOG for me (thank you Carlos Valdivia-Luna~ I could never get this set up without your help!)
Or as they say in the Phlippines- "SALAMAT" (Thank you!)
Love, Theresa

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