Friday, August 10, 2012

Gift of Life - Brought to Life

So, I had to go back through my posts to see if I have ever talked about Rotary. You can find all posts in which it is referenced here. But, I am sad to say, I haven't really talked about what we actually do as Rotarians. And, actually, the true details will need to be saved for another post. Suffice it to say, it's an awesome civic organization in which we've met a ton of new people with caring hearts. And, it's the reason I eat lunch at Ponderosa every Thursday. :)

One of the club's main fundraising efforts each year is for Gift of Life. Gift of Life International is a large organization that works on getting children all over the world life saving operations for heart conditions with tons of support from Rotary Clubs across the globe. Each year, our club puts on a huge auction to raise money for the same cause. (I'm sure my Rotarian friends would be able to put this all more eloquently, but honestly, I'm not sure of the connection between GOL International, our Rotary District and our club.) The auction raises around $50,000 a year and our club has saved the lives of a bunch of children due to this one night and all of the hard work that it takes. I will say this post will not do any of this justice...

We have also sent a vocational training team from Riley Hospital to Uganda two times in order to train Ugandan surgeons and staff to do the same surgeries as we do here. You can check out their blog for day to day updates about their trip. They are able to operate on more children while there for the same costs as flying one child here. And, the training the doctors and nurses receive while there makes it possible to do even more surgeries once we leave.

Every once in a while, though, we bring children to Indianapolis. This year, it will be five children. And, by we, I mean our club's Rotary District. This year, a member of our club, Stephanie, is the District Gift of Life chair. Fortunately for me, we are Stephanie's new neighbor. Sunday night was the night the new baby and her mother arrived at the airport from Kosovo. I went along for the ride, leaving the house after my normal bedtime... 10:15. Their flight was due to arrive around 11:30. We waited there with some other Rotarians.

Suzanna and Monica watched down the long hallway to try to see her. Monica ended up hurdling the couch once she saw her coming. :)

It was sometime during this wait that I realized what Mira (the mother) must be going through during this time. I know we work really hard at putting together the auction and getting the items and it can be very stressful at times. However, the stress and uncertainty of this woman's situation certainly outweighs all of that. She boarded a plane, alone, with a five month old for a 24 hour travel day. Then, she arrives in a foreign country and is not able to speak the language. She rides with a stranger to a strange place and has to eat strange food for the next six weeks. Meanwhile, her baby is operated on by a stranger too. I become very overwhelmed when I put myself in the same situation. I don't know that I would have the strength or courage...

Finally, they arrived. It was great to see them.

I snapped this photo while we were picking up their bags.

Stephanie putting Sara in the car seat.

We took them to the Ronald McDonald House and arrived there around 12:30AM or so. I have never been there, so that was an experience too. I can't imagine what comfort this place must give families when they need to be close to a loved one in the hospital. We got her settled into her room, made her bed and Sara's bed (she wasn't so sure about the pack and play). Then, we left to let her sleep. Once home, I tossed and turned all night - thinking about what a great thing Mira is doing and how scared I would be and praying for peace for them.

Stephanie went back over to the hospital to be with Mira and Sara for their first pre-surgery appointment. Not having a translator was hard I'm sure but they started using the Google Translate app on her phone. I didn't think too much of it, but they had to call in a formal, official translator when it came down to the real medical sign off stuff. Mira only speaks Albanian and there is not an official translator in all of Indiana.

Here is a great picture of them in the hospital together.

Today, Jack and I took a trip over to see them. When I arrived, she was talking back and forth through the Google translate program with another family staying there. I think she was happy to have some socialization! We stayed and talked there a while and watched the kids play.

Eventually, I took her over to the community kitchen and asked if I could make her lunch. (All through the translate app on the phone.) Stephanie had told me she liked noodles, so I made mac and cheese. She liked it. Maybe comfort food is the same in any culture. :)

She is able to communicate with her family over instant messenger but we have not been able to get video chat up and running yet. I think I finally have it set up so it may work now. I was able to take a video of her and Sara and let her send it to her husband and family. She chatted a long time on the computer, which I can tell she appreciated.

In the meantime, I took photos. :)

Jack was really enthralled with her. I told him last night we were going to see a baby today and he talked about it non-stop. He got down and talked to her and she "talked" back. He was so sweet with her and kept saying "Mama, she's talking to me!" Here's a little video (please ignore the over protective woman in the background - she seriously needs to settle down...)

Sara will have surgery on Monday. I'm going to try to make it over again sometime during the week. It sounds like she will be in the hospital for at least a week but probably 10 days. So, Jack may not be able to visit again until later in their stay. I'm hoping to take the girls too. Mira and Sara are here until mid-September while she recovers.

I think it's important to help form a loving heart in our own kids. There is no way to teach them this without hands on experience. They won't need to wait to go on a mission trip in junior high to see that people need our help and our compassion. I want them to see mom and dad doing these things as they grow older not just talking about it. So, they'll come with us again when we set up for the auction and now they'll have a face to put with all of the hard work. And, so will we. :)


1 comment:

  1. That's great and awesome Gift of Life and i like your thoughts.