Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Surgery... Kabankalan 2015

Meet Lambert! 13 years old and finally getting a palate repair surgery. Lambert'a home is a structure with "cloth" for walls -which from driving around various Baragays (neighborhoods) we figured out is blue plastic tarp. No solid walls. He goes to school at the church for the poorest of the city! He was very unsure of us the first day when he checked in. We gave him a book and pencil and paper... And a small car that we thought he might be to "old" for but, "never too old" he smiled widely! Second day (when we took this picture) we gave him a memory game and taught him how to play! What fun to see a simple gesture on our part- like taking the time to play a game-made in this boy! He was sitting all day waiting for his surgery. During that time younger children getting surgery are crying from IV insertions to surgery recovery... All the time knowing he's next! Our host Flor described his living situation; it's very hard to focus on what we can do on a mission like this with all that needs to be done!
As we were leaving we snapped this picture of lambert playing the game himself and we encouraged some of the other parents to play games with him-and I'm sure they will! His mom could not spend the day; a brother of his was around somewhere but we did not see him! 
Lambert had his palate surgery on Saturday and we hope to see him next year for speech therapy!

Above a is 8 month old Jeffers before his cleft lip surgery. His smile ( which I didn't catch on camera) would make you smile or laugh out loud! He was so cute and happy! After surgery (below) mom was the one who kept smiling!! She was very happy with his new smile (although she clearly loved his old one too!). Hopefully they'll return next year to have Jeffers' cleft palate repaired!

Speech therapy ... Sunday through Saturday!

SPEECH therapy kept everybody busy for the last eight days! Cynthia Alleman (Boise, Idaho) and Theresa Snelling, (Denver, Colorado), team speech pathologists,  worked with 12 children twice a day. AL Snelling, sixth-grade teacher (Denver, Colorado)  tutored the speech students in math, reading and writing-keeping the children learning and engaged while smaller groups or individual speech sessions were provided! The children don't have much opportunity to play board games, card games or build with Legos- all of which they did during their week of therapy! 

Activities and crafts included painting/tie dye T-shirts which we all wore proudly around Kabankalan for the city "Charter Festival" going on all week (more on that in another blog entry!). Speech therapy was targeted in both the local language/dialect (Ilongo) and English. Schools are taught in English, per report, but most of the children do not speak conversationally in English and had difficulty understanding our English! The older students loved being "tested" in English translations while teaching and testing me in Ilongo! They were better with English than I was in Ilongo!!

I'll be traveling the next few days and will try and add some more information on the students in our speech program!
Enjoy a few pictures of the group activities and therapy!!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday, July 27,2015-first full day of speech therapy!!

Cynthia Alleman, speech pathologist from Boise Idaho arrived Sunday!  Although her flights were on time (unlike Al and I)-her box of supplies, books, T-shirts and therapy materials, etc... did not arrive with her!!  We are still hopeful but it is now Tuesday morning here and still no box!! We are hoping it will still "appear"!
Even with some materials we really hoped to have, speech therapy started Monday as planned! 

Theresa, Cynthia and Al- are working with 11 children (so far) in a morning session and repeat afternoon session! Reading and math are favorites for the kids when working with Al; Cynthia's iPad is another big hit since in Boise her population of middle school students means downloaded apps are exiting for our older group this summer...
Clint-11;  Tata-13; Pinky-11; Fhebie-11; Luziel-9; Rodcliff-9... are big fans! 
Elma-8; Tara-8; Hope-6; Princess-3; Trisha-5 -are big fans of Memory games! The children received notebooks and pens/pencils to list their practice sounds and words; they are expected to practice between morning and afternoon sessions and in the evening. About 1/2 of the children have a mother with them; the mothers also look out for the other children who didn't have a parent available to join them. Dr. Williams showered them with goodie bags (including light up toothbrushes:-) and they carry the bags with them to access pens NS markers for notebook entries!

Our local host for the children is Flor Moya. Flor is a nurse and is using the lower half of her house to house 9 of the children and 4-5 parents. She is an active Rotarian who is generous in her time, support and spirit! She drives us to our different locations and appointments throughout the day and is always happy and smiling! When the mother of one of the children fell ill, Fllor made sure she received medical attention and she went to purchase the necessary medications! As with other missions I have been on here in the Philippines, the humanitarian nature of Rotarians here is amazing and a great gift to the poor.
Flor and Theresa at children's party at Flor's home- Saturday of our arrival!

Pinky arrives for speech session #3!

We started speech screenings on Sunday AFTER  driving to the mountains to pick up Pinky! Those of you who have followed previous blogs from Dipolog have met Pinky through the blog. In the ICSF NEWSLETTER ( archives you can read about Pinky's arrival to the surgical team! She was recently on the cover of the boise paper highlighting the work of Dr. Geoff Williams and his team. Pinky was 10 years old when she had her palate repaired, so being older, speech progress has been slower. We also suspect Pinky had hearing loss which makes it a little tougher for her too!! She is a trooper and this being her 3rd speech mission-she is making some nice progress! These pictures are from Sunday when our host Flor Moya drove us up to her home to see why she hadn't arrived for speech therapy.  It's was an 1 1/2 hour drive up to the rolling mountains and field upon field of sugar cane! Her family has no cell phone so going up there was our best chance of getting Pinky to therapy. This picture was taken after Pinky spotted me and ran (fast)"!) up to hug me as I got out of the car!  Pinky is usually more reserved and to be hugged with such a grin warmed my heart!! It has only been 4 months since I saw her in Dipolog for speech therapy!! 
Pinky's home for Pinky, her father, 2 sisters and one younger brother (her older sister  and 2 brothers live closer to cities in Kabankalan and Bacolod) is a small 2 room hut. Her father graciously invited us in to their sparse, clean little home.  Toys are not visible (although Pinky's previous collections from missions were in her suitcase:-) and there is no running water or bathroom. Under the hut are many variety and sizes of chickens. The hut had a metal roof; the wood walls have a window each and stepping up inside was noticeably cooler than outdoors! Thank goodness for that because I expected our rise in elevation to be cooler (its not like mountains in Colorado!) There is a table with a variety of mismatched plates and a pot-cooking is done outside-but plans are being made to extend the little home for a kitchen.  It was hard to take Pinky for the week and leave her younger brother and sister behind... knowing Pinky would be "working" hard on her speech but also get a fun 10 days with the children, toys, books and treats...

2 of Pinky's brothers and sisters...

Sugar cane fields in drive up... 

In usual Filipino style we have been thanked repeatedly for helping the children. It's humbling because the rewards for us are overwhelming! Seeing Pinky's home and living conditions is a problem of poverty we cannot solve. But helping her with more options in life through education and going to school, being understood with her speech to apply for jobs, and letting her know she is important to many- makes the unimaginable part more tolerable. 
Chickens under Pinky's home...

We'll keep you updated on Pinky-more stories to come!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Cleft Palate Surgical/Speech Mission Kabankalan... July 2015

I depart tomorrow out of Denver for  another  cleft palate surgical/speech therapy mission to the Philippines with The International Children's Surgical Foundation (!

This will be my 12th trip to the Philippines, and second surgical/speech therapy mission there this year! The foundation is extending the speech therapy mission to a new city… Kabankalan, province of Negros Occidental, Philippines! For the last five years children from this region have traveled all day to get to our speech site in Dipolog City on the island of Mindanao; Families have had to leave their home for two weeks for their children to receive intensive speech therapy on another island. This will be our first time providing speech therapy on the island of Negros Occidental-The team will be doing the traveling instead of the children and their parent or guardian!

Dr. Geoff Williams has been doing surgery in this region for many years. We are very excited to be extending the speech therapy component of the surgical mission for children with cleft lip and/or palate in this region!

We plan to arrive in Bacolod on the northern part of the island followed by a 90 minute car ride to the city of Kabankalan, on Saturday July 25th. Speech screenings will start on Saturday july 25th with some therapy starting  Sunday july 26;  initial surgeries will start on Monday!  The design of the speech therapy program is the same as it has been in Dipolog for the last five years; a minimum of twice daily speech therapy sessions for all the children in both individual and group settings every day with parents or guardians practicing daily during other parts of the day!.  Speech therapists- Theresa Snelling and Cynthia Alleman-wiill provide intensive speech therapy from Sunday through Saturday of week one. Cynthia will continue speech therapy on Monday and Tuesday of week 2, providing 10 days of intensive speech therapy for the children!

Please follow our blog and we will do our best to keep it updated with stories of the children as well as pictures of our surgery patients!! 

Prayers for safe travel for the team and patients and  successful surgery/speech therapy, are appreciated! 

Picture below are some of the donations for the children receiving surgery as well as speech therapy! Thank you to the Filipino-Indonesian-Pacific Islands Heritage Camp participants for cards, games, toys and art supplies!! And thanks to the families in my office in Lakewood, Colorado for donations of toys, cards, cars, arts and crafts!! 
SALAMAT (thank you),

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Goodbye to some new found friends!

Sr. Cecilia, with the Community of Hope and the sisters of St. Columban... Her mission brought the children from Ozamiz City ( and a parent or guardian ) on a 3 hour van ride to stay 2 weeks in Dipolog for the speech therapy!! So special in her good deeds and care of God's children with disabilities!

Jashen and Marie Grace... Our interpreter, travel guides, Rotaractors, and Red Cross volunteers... Not to mention college students!! Amazing!!

The "speech team"... One of our mottos= 
LOST IN TRANSLATION! What an amazing and fun group!! 
Elizabeth "Betsy" Straka, MS,CCC-SLP
(Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Kate Schwab, B.A. graduate Student, University of Northern Colorado)
Theresa Snelling, MA,CCC-SLP
(Lakewood, CO)
Ellie McKinnon (honorary speech therapist!) marketing/ICSF-Boise,ID

Anesthesiologist, Dr. Mario John Judith; Nursing Team: Christine, Marilyn, Bon, and Earl! Did surgeries 6 days a week till... 11pm, midnight, 1am, 2am, 3am!!!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Afternoon at beach with children!

The children performed songs,read  poems and letters, and passed out thank you cards to all of us this afternoon! The children from the city of Ozamiz have the sea out their gate, so all the children from both  Negros  and Dipolog region... Who have been in speech therapy for 2 together for play, a little therapy... And swimming! What joy!!

Some before and afters...smiles changed...

BEFORE CLEFT PALATE REPAIR (left) and AFTER SURGICAL REPAIR (right) Although the cleft appears small in the picture on the right- the location of the cleft directly involves the muscles needed for speech; without the repair voice is hypernasal with some sounds impossible to make! The mother of the patient was counseled to return next year for speech therapy!


After ONE SIDED (Unilateral) Cleft Lip Repair!

Beautiful 11 year old with two-sided (bilateral) cleft lip! Although still much swelling after 1 week...amazing outcome for this sweet shy girl!  We caught her smiling when we played a card game with her before surgery, but we hope to see her next year (when she feels better!) with a big, beautiful, well-healed smile! She still needs to have her cleft palate repaired!


Kent "AFTER"  (to the left) what a life changing surgical repair for this young boy...He waited  12 years for a mission to do his surgery! We can't wait to see him next year!  His mother was very happy to be there and finally have him receive surgery! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Some team pictures with Rotary!

Sorry posting delays! It has been a busy week 2! We have been "well fed" with lunches, dinners, and snacks (deserts!) Attached are a few pictures of Dr.Mahjongs BDay party, lunches out with Rotary (prior to beach time on Sunday!)and rotary meeting/dinner!