We were definitely a sight to behold at JFK international airport. A team of 10 people all wearing identical "Love Without Reason" yellow shirts, trolleying 30 pieces of luggage which were all tagged with the same beautiful Volunteer Orange ribbons. We were an excited bunch, taking selfies, praying in tongues and passing out snacks.
The flight was uneventful, other than people asking us "What is Love Without Reason?" One pastor from Kenya invited us to bring Love Without Reason to Kenya! God willing that day will come very soon.
We were greeted by an amazing team at the Harare Airport. Each LWR family was hosted by a church family from Revival Ministries International, which was LWR's hosting church for our very first medical camp in Zimbabwe! Sunday morning three separate churches received the Word from different groups of LWR's team. Each service was powerful. The atmosphere of expectancy is the breeding ground for miracles!
Beginning Sunday up until Saturday each day was designated with tasks and preparation for the Sunday (Father's Day) medical camp at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare. Everything from visiting the hospital and laying the map for camp day, to sorting out medical supplies to creating patient files!! Whether you had a medical background or not, your skill was used here! During the evenings, various meetings were held: awareness meetings on Human Trafficking, a seminar on Women in Ministry, and a Message of Hope from Philip Mathews. Every person on the ten member team from America shared or spoke during these meetings. Our first two team members from India came as the Trustees of LWR Foundation, the remaining "Big Five" which included the surgeons and anesthesiologists would arrive on Saturday.
The day of camp finally arrived! The Admin team arrived at 6a.m. and there was already a line of twenty patients waiting for the doors to open. We learned that many traveled from 300-500 kilometers away, and their transport had arrived late in the night or early that morning to deposit them at the hospital. We all assembled at each of the 11 stations, which included a photo session, pediatrician, surgeon, and anesthetist evaluation, blood work, and counseling. The amazing volunteers (close to 100) checked in at their stations ready to help at their first medical camp. The medical students from the University of Zimbabwe came with their white coats to assist in history taking and in registration and to learn from the health care providers. Nursing staff from the hospital assisted the patients with weights, blood pressure and blood draws. Runners transported vials of blood to and from the lab in order to streamline the movement of patients. Approximately 149 patients came through the camp, with 46 being screened out for non-facial health issues. Of the remainder, lists were made to accommodate patients for the June mission, and for the next camp mission.
Beginning Monday morning, children and adults were brought to the operating theatre for surgery. Santhosh and I visited them in the hospital ward that evening. Many parents that night itself thanked us with tears of gratitude in their eyes, as they gazed in wonder at their children's new faces.
The days started at 5a.m. and ended at 11pm with the workload in the hospital. Our lead operating room nurse, Sister Botoro, told us "I will not be tired, until Sunday." Their hearts were moved because of the love shown to the people of Zimbabwe. One surgical nurse cried as she shared with us during the focus group meeting on Friday night, "No one cares about the poor. No one. But you have come to change their lives."
Friends, the work is not over in Zimbabwe, it is only beginning. If you have given to Love Without Reason, please know that this is your victory too! If you have never supported the cause, I urge you to partner with us. There was only 1 craniofacial surgeon in the entire country, as a result there is a five year back log of patients with such birth defects. With the help of LWR surgical team passing on their skills, many more surgeons will rise up in this country. The five year back log will disappear.
Thank you for joining with us! God bless you for answering the call!!
Until the World is Cleft Free!