Today is opening clinic and patients are huddled together on the narrow benches that line the halls. It is not the surgery that frightens them. It is the alien atmosphere of the hospital. They long for their familiar streets, their colorful markets and the serene beauty of their terraced fields.
Inside the examination room, the doctors consult about a skin graft for Teresa. She became engulfed in flames when she was four years old, leaving her hands grotesquely disfigured. Her recovery has been physically and mentally excruciating, since it is human nature to stare at someone who is different from the norm. Teresa´s mother, Dona Hortensia, looks at me intently, then speaks so slowly that her words are almost a prayer: "Please help my child." I know that if we are able to do so, this will be more than just a surgery. It will be a cherished gift from Interplast, from our donors, from the people of America, Canada and Spain.