Guest Blog by Jesta
Flying tonight. Mostly packed and ready, but who knows? Made sure that I have my PSP and DS, and a collection of games to keep me occupied in the down-times.
I got the briefing pack from OS last night – it was a long letter detailing all the things that we will need to do and things that we shouldn’t do. It’s big on ideas like showing respect for the culture that we are going to work in. I’m guessing that this is something that the Americans feel is important based on past experience and that they need to remind people of. I’m hoping that those of us from Singapore are sufficiently culturally aware not to make any serious faux-pas.
On a personal level: My camera and equipment are a big concern. Not only are they horribly expensive, but they are (so far) uninsurable – no travel insurance covers the value of the equipment that I use and we have been warned about the crime situation in what is, in reality, a third-world part of China.
I’ve also got to think about the amount of weight that I will be carrying around – not just the camera, but also the laptop and other stuff (I’ve managed to pick up a chronic back condition that can make my life not a lot of fun at all). If I won’t be able to leave my stuff in the hotel then I will be having to cart it all over the place, which really won’t make my life easy.
I’m envisioning wandering around Urumqi looking like a latter-day Quasimodo or being hopped up on painkillers and smiling all the time.
On a more personal note: I think that my biggest worry (I tend to stress about things, if you haven’t already guessed) is that I will find it hard to cope with the emotional strain of dealing with parents and children. I tend to be quite empathic and seeing parents who are in a situation that I could have been in so easily if I had been in this place will be quite traumatic. To see children with cleft lip and palate will be hard, but to see some turned away will be really hard. OS cannot operate on all the children who are assessed – I believe that we are expecting to operate on 75 out of 150 so we will have to see parents who have lost hope, and children who will never have a chance at an ordinary life.
The balance will be that we will see parents and children who will now have a new life ahead of them. That will be the most wonderful thing for me, and it’s a huge part of the reason why I decided to work with this charity.
Believe me, there’s nothing that makes me feel warmer than looking at pictures of my daughter before and after her first operation…
Next update will be from China and will include more pictures.