Carol Lerner, Rotary District 7450 volunteer coordinator for Rotaplast, discussed the 2019 district mission to Monrovia, Liberia.
Rotaplast is a separate organization, a spinoff of activity of Rotary members, but one that is actively supported by Rotary clubs. Missions take place only to areas where local Rotary clubs can provide support.
A team of 21 people in this mission consisted of nine Rotarians and 12 health professionals (doctors and nurses). The official task is to provide surgery for cleft palate and cleft lip, conditions that are routinely corrected in the United States but that can be physically and socially crippling in other countries. Ordinarily about 100 surgeries are performed in a 10 day mission, but because of logistical and financial reasons affecting the local population, only about 60 such surgeries were performed in this mission. The surgeons were able to expand their reach to include a number of surgeries for keloid scars.
Keloids are common among certain African populations. If untreated, these scars can become raised and become so large as to be disfiguring.
Each of the accompanying Rotarians was assigned a support job on this mission, such as being in charge of sterile materials, preoperational contact with the children, transportation within the hospital, and other assorted tasks. Carol spoke of the tremendous esprit de corps that developed among all the members of the mission as they were engaged in a significant humanitarian activity.
Missions are generally planned 6 to 8 months in advance. The mission for 2020 sponsored by our Rotary district has not yet been scheduled.