Farhad Sigari, MD is an Otolaryngologist who has been working in the Kenosha, Wisconsin area for the last 4 years and is now in the process of relocating to Southern California. He completed his training at the University of Chicago where he began volunteering for medical missions in 2003, and started volunteering with MMFC in 2005 on the Cusco, Peru mission. He recently returned from MMFC’s inaugural mission to Cajamarca, Peru.
The MMFC physicians, coordinators, and volunteers worked hard for the last two years to make a first ever trip to Cajamarca, Peru a reality. This hard work and dedication came to fruition when the MMFC crew landed in Cajamarca, Peru on August 28. The efforts ultimately resulted in a full week of surgical and dental procedures for children born with cleft lip and palate deformities.
Our arrival had been discussed, advertised, and anticipated by the regional community, newspapers, and radio stations, and because of this, we were met at the airport by the local coordinator, potential patients, and their families. Even a traditional local band welcomed our arrival to Cajamarca with much fanfare. It was a warm and welcoming reception.
We were overwhelmed with the hardship each family endured just to have a chance to seek medical care for their children. One of the most compelling stories was of a beautiful 13 year old girl named Erlita who had been born with both a cleft lip and a cleft palate deformity. Previously, when Erlita was age 4, her family had saved and borrowed from their local village community to travel hundreds of miles to seek medical care, only to be turned down. Her family was devastated and since had given up all hope for any possible treatment. However, thanks to the MMFC outreach efforts, they heard that there was the possibility of receiving surgical treatment any 13 year girl old with her deformity would wish for. Again with the help of family, friends, and community, Erlita and her father traveled a day and half (including 4 hours by foot) in hopes to make her dream a reality. And this time, it did.
Luckily for Erlita and her family, the MMFC team was able to coordinate the proper surgical and dental treatment she so desperately needed. Erlita and her father were overjoyed with the result. Her father shared with the MMFC team that 5 other families with children with similar deformities in surrounding villages had also given up hope for any possible treatment. He was excited to return home with the news that such medical treatment was possible and was being offered by the MMFC organization to the people of Peru. MMFC is already coordinating treatment for those children and others like Erlita for next year’s mission!
On its inaugural mission, MMFC performed a remarkable 40 surgical cases during a one week, one operating room schedule, 30 of which were cleft lip/palate procedures. On behalf of the children and families of Cajamarca, Peru, we would like to thank the Children of Peru Foundation, Smile Train, and our many kind-hearted and generous donors, without whom this mission would not have happened.