Since last Sunday, we have experienced many successes and have also been faced with some problems, but thankfully they all seem to be working out well.
In the two weeks that we've been here, we've been able to start working with over 15 amputees. And there are plenty more to work with. One of the more tender moments occurred when Kalisita, a 7-year old girl, showed up to the clinic with her dad. She lost her leg in a car accident a few years ago, and was given a prosthetic leg in New Zealand after the accident. As you can imagine, she continued to grow while her leg didn't. I have attached a couple pics of her and her old prosthetic leg. The leg used to have a foot on it, but it broke and now she walks on this shortened prosthesis like a peg-leg. We are very excited to make a leg for her so she can start running around again with her friends!
The men we are working with, Sione / John (the physical therapist), Feinga (the wood carver), Freddie and Davida (two younger RMs) are quick learners. This is especially fortunate, considering the lack of a prosthetist at the clinic right now (more on this later). These men understand the importance of the "Tonga Prosthetics Clinic", and seem to be dedicated to making it successful.
As for the issues this week, some of you may have seen Peter's email about the problems with the plaster, fiberglass, and Garth the prosthetist. We were having issues finding plaster, but were able to find some joint compound at a newly-opened hardware store. As we have used it this week to make 5 molds (and have 4 casts waited to be poured), we have found that it will work adequately well for now. We found out from Sam, the supplier of fiberglass, that we were mixing the resin incorrectly, and so have fixed this problem too. As for Garth, the US wouldn't let him leave the country because his passport expires in less than 6 months. Come to find out there is some rarely-known rule that a person cannot travel abroad if their passport is going to expire that soon. So Garth's dad was able to make it to Tonga with supplies, but then headed back to the U.S. early because his son couldn't come down too. Fortunately Sione is skilled and capable. So we've continued to move forward with meeting with amputees. So these problems that seems insurmountable at the beginning of the week have all been overcome.
This project is truly an amazing experience, and we hope to be able to describe it to you all when we get back. As for now, please continue to pray for the success of our project here.