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We have now been at Project Mercy in Yetebon for 2 days, and are beginning to get into a comfortable rhythm – not without surprises along the way!

PictureAfter treating the “House Children” on Tuesday (80 children that live on property at the Orphanage), today we began assessing and treating the 1,500 School Children that walk from outlying villages to attend school at Project Mercy. We saw and treated 193 children today, which is amazing considering the conditions; we are set up in “MASH” style tents on the school grounds - no power, no running water, and monsoon rains that have a habit of kicking up overnight. Our onsite team of 2 physicians, 3 nurses, 5 non-medical team members, and 7 local nurse translators are working at max capacity – our goal is to see and treat as many of the 1,500 School Children as possible over the next 7 days.

A lofty goal, but we will do our best! We also have 2 skilled doctors (ObGyn and ENT) working at the local Project Mercy hospital, assisting with training and high-touch surgeries.

These School Children (coming from the surrounding villages) are lucky ones – once they are chosen by lottery to be admitted to Kindergarten, their schooling is provided (for free) through High School. In addition to education, they are also given two meals each day.
Despite the benefits these School Children receive, we immediately saw a marked difference between the Orphanage Children (who live on property and are provided with 3 meals/day, clothing, education and a loving staff), and the School Children. At least 50% of the School Children have no shoes, and most are wearing old, tattered clothing.
Although they have the opportunity of eating meals at school, we immediately saw more significant issues of low height and weight, with some cases of malnutrition. It doesn’t take much to imagine the conditions for those children that are not receiving the benefit of schooling and a hot meal each day…

In amongst all of the activity and work that is going on, the most precious and touching part is interacting with these beautiful children. They are captivatingly beautiful, and so precious with their sweet smiles! It is very common for a child to be shy and frightened when they first enter our medical tents – eyes downcast, barely whispering their names. By the time they have spent a few hours being gently guided through the different stations, been given stickers, and laughed and shouted during songs and puppet skits, it is clear that they are no different than any other children! Only more beautiful and precious because of their sweet spirits despite the harsh conditions they live in…

And we are truly the ones benefiting from this wonderful interaction with these precious children – something we hope that someday everyone could experience! For now we hope that this blog will give you a glimpse into this beautiful and captivating world….