Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Operation Smile - in Handan, China

I've recently returned from three weeks in China.  I went to Handan, China with Operation Smile, a voluntary medical mission to surgically repair the cleft palates and cleft lips of children.  Handan is 3 1/2 hours south of Beijing by train, a "town" of almost a million people, and the main industry is coal.  It was the first time Operation Smile had been there, and we were welcomed with open arms and tremendous hospitality.  We were able to help 55 children.  In this photo we were running three operating tables in one room, and two in the other room.  We were in a new hospital and things ran very smoothly.

      At the end of our week in Handan we were taken to a special restaurant in a nearby area, that specializes in a particular food - donkey meat.  It wasn't just donkey meat, it was all the donkey organs and parts.  I won't mention all the parts, but some were heart, intestine and tendons.  I ate the rice.

     After the mission, I stayed for a week in Beijing, by myself, to see as much as I could of the area.  I was able to go to Tiananmen Square and the National Museum and the Great Wall before the tremendous influx of Chinese came to the capital during their week-long holiday for "National Day."  I was able to go all around the city on the efficient and frequent subway trains, and also tried the taxis and busses.

 One of the most outstanding things I saw was a "Kung Fu Performance" which was not only an amazing display of athletes, but masterfully built around a heart-warming story.  My stay was at the economical "Swissotel" which was actually rated 5-star and was wonderful.  The staff spoke English and I was able to get a lot of help every day in figuring out how to get to certain places.
     It was a good experience for me, but best of all were the children whose lives were changed.


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