Monday, June 16, 2008

Garberville Rotary in Venzuela

This is a reprint of an article on the local Rotary blog. The project is just one of the things that the Garberville Rotary Club is involved in. Needless to say we are very proud of our Rotarian, Brian Walker...

The girl in the photo is named "Sumalita", she was part of Rotoplast Guatemala, last years project. She has many more operations ahead of her.
Garberville Rotarian Brian Walker is the "Quartermaster" on the Rotoplast team to Venezuela. He is a reluctant "Blogger", so a member of the Rotoplast team has been chosen to keep us as up to date as possible, considering the remoteness of the area that they are in.

The team is down there repairing cleft lips and palettes. Click on this link for a description of the kind of work that they are doing; Clef palette repair. Also refer to this previous article. And this: Rotoplast

The reports from the team will be updated here as they come in. They will be posted at the bottom so they will read from earliest to latest. Here goes!


Dear Friends ~

Your friend or family member has given me your email address so that I can include you in my “reports from the field” as our team’s journalist. You may see this address or another one that I use ( so please don’t put them in the spam file!

Karen Bradford

(Rotary District 5330, sponsor of this mission)


Our Rotaplast team is safely in place in Venezuela. They took a military C-130 instead of an eight-hour bus drive from the airport.

Internet cafes are non-existent…there won’t be a lot directly from Karen.

Good news, though: Venezuela has adopted CDMA technology for their cellular network, so Karen can call using her home cell phone.

Clint Bradford


Karen advises there’s no Internet access in the hotel’s business office…So email messages from the team will be spotty.

Clint Bradford


Greetings to all of our family and friends!

This is just a little note to let you all know what is happening as I have not yet had time to write articles and have them cleared by our team leader in proper protocol. I hope to do that soon.

Our Team Cumana is very safe, happy and healthy on our fifth day in country. Our intake clinic day on Tuesday went well, despite a thunderstorm in oppressive heat, as we worked inside a smallish air- conditioned room on a military compound in Cumana.

The families are so appreciative that we are here. Surgeries started on Wednesday and are going well, and it is so rewarding to see lives changed in such a short period of time.

The host Rotary Club of Cumanagoto is absolutely exceptional in taking care of us. Despite it being a club of less than 30 people, there are so many supporter and volunteer relationships built during 10 years of sponsoring Rotaplast missions here. The Rotarians feed us very well and treat us with love and respect: At our first hosted dinner on Monday, I noticed the difference between our American customs by how one of the Venezuelan Rotarian ladies warmly held her arm around the shoulders of one of our female team members as she praised and welcomed us. When we go home, I will miss the ladies' custom of greeting me with kisses on each side of my face.

We are having difficulty with email by there being no Internet provisions here with the hotel's advertised facility being removed! I feel taunted by the sign on the door saying "Internet Center" but only an electrical cord in sight. Some team members brought their own laptops that they are happy to share, but modem connectivity has been very cranky, and there is so little time to spare as our team spends 12-hour days at the hospital --- and longer for some of the medical people! --- with a half-hour commute each way.

I am asked to convey that we are fine, and the team members may be able to phone if there is time. We are getting along well as a team and are proud of our work here. Thanks for your love and support in the time we are gone.

Warm regards from us to you,

Karen Bradford
Team journalist


Hello friends and family!Our team is still doing well, and we are more than half-way through our mission so we will see you soon. My first stories have been approved for distribution, so here is a description of our first day; more tomorrow. Karen Bradfordteam photojournalist
Arrival: ¡Bienvenidos a Venezuela!

“This mission to CumanĂ¡ is in the top one percent of what actually happens on Rotaplast missions,” complimented Mission Director Ted Durant during the first team meeting on the day after our arrival in Venezuela. “With our first few hours as an example, we all are going to be fine!” (His prognostication proved to be true.)

Unlike airport regulations in the United States, members of the Rotary Club of Cumanagoto greeted our group at the top of the Caracas jetway; we appreciated their warm welcomes after dragging in from various parts of the United States and funneling through Atlanta, where we first met as a team. Quickly escorted by the Rotarians’ arrangement through the customs arrival line marked “diplomats,” we retrieved our luggage and climbed aboard a shuttle, mercifully air-conditioned from the oppressive humidity. As condensation formed and dripped down our cooled windows, we realized the funny comparison to being inside a giant sweating glass of iced tea.

Plan A for transfer to CumanĂ¡, about 250 miles east, indicated a hop via military transport plane; the Rotarians’ Plan B --- for “big bus” --- was an unappealing but very potential eight-hour ride in case the government could not accommodate us.

We were delighted to see the camouflage-painted Aero Fuerza Venezuela C-130 transport at our service, pallets of our boxed medical supplies already being loaded under bright spotlights. On mighty wings attached at the top of the fuselage, the plane’s four huge propellers would hardly get a workout from ferrying our supplies and team of 26 medical and nonmedical volunteers. We walked up the airplane’s rear deck fuselage that lowered as a ramp; the jump-suited crewman with headphones and a flashlight pointed us past cargo and into the cavernous dark to find our seats.

After figuring out how military aircraft buckles snapped shut, we gleefully looked around in our E-ticket ride: rudimentary webbed seating attached to center posts and padded airplane walls, a few stretchers fixed over our heads and the wires, cables and ducting of the aircraft in full view. The people who brought earplugs soon stuffed them in place as the props whined into furious spinning. We taxied and flew off into the starry tropical night.

After an hour of flight, more jump-suited and beefy-looking military men directed us from our solitary landing as we emerged under the plane’s tail to bright lights on a deserted tarmac. Pointed toward a terminal with peeling paint, we waited for the cargo.

Well past midnight by this time, we piled into a bus, our cargo and suitcases loaded on trucks behind us. Two policia escorts on motorcycles roared into the lead toward our hotel as we took our first look at the moonlit streets of CumanĂ¡.

Karen Bradford


Ernie Branscomb said...

If you are interested in this post, please keep following the post at the bottom for new updates as they come in. I will keep them as current as I can.


Rose said...

That is awesome, Ernie, Things like this qualify as a World of Good (WOG) Post.

The purpose of the WOG posts are to bring attention to the everyday acts of kindness that occur all around us, but get little recognition. We believe that kindness and charity are far more common that acts of cruelty and violence, but they get far less attention.

We also believe that good deeds are contagious and that by highlighting them on a weekly basis, we might be able to generate some imitation by our readers.

Rose said...

That's a quote from the blogger who started the World of Good Posts.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Rose, thank-you for your kind words. But in the blogging world I only want to reach my friends and very little more. As soon as the whole world finds your blog, you have to spend your full time getting rid of spam an unwanted comments.

I don’t belong to any religion, but I believe in the golden rule. That requires me to help those people in need however I can. It really doesn’t require much of my time to be a firefighter or a Rotarian. What I get back out of the small things that I do is returned to me ten-fold.

I am embarrassed by what a fun life that I’ve had. You have no idea the feeling of pride that a person gets to hand a deserving student a scholarship, and have that person thank you every time they see you. You should hear one of the speeches that a Rotarian gives after returning from a trip to drill new freshwater wells, or immunize kids against Polio. Or especially after working with a Rotoplast team. I’ve not had the opportunity to work on an International Service team, but I still feel great pride in belonging to the group that helps send people all over the world.

If you ever want to feel really good about yourself, do something really good for someone else. I know that sounds hokey, but can you imagine someone coming up to you with tears in their eyes to thank you when you really didn’t do that much? Two drops of a Polio vaccine can save a kids life, or save them from spending the rest of their life crawling.

One of the best things that the Rotary club does is the student exchange program where we send a student of to a foreign land and we bring one here in return. The young people bond with their new friends and become fluent in a new language. Think what it would do for world peace if every young person had the opportunity to do that.

I could go on forever about the good that the Rotary club does. One of the things that I approve of is you will never see the Rotary club on television begging for money. We make ours the old fashion way, we earn it. So if you ever see a Rotary fund raiser and feel like participating, do it. You will get your moneys worth.

Rose said...

Ernie, I don't know much about you, but my impression from reading your blog and considering your point of view, is you are a World of Good in and of yourself.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Rose, you're making me blush. I just hide my evil side.