Back to Peru With Komedyplast
Follow us as we return to Peru for 10 days to support Komedyplast, a U.S. nonprofit that performs free craniofacial surgeries for the poor children in Peru, we have helped support doctors with clowning during the screening and post care for children in the hospital.
Well, we are off on Thursday to be with the Komedyplast medical team again in Peru..and we are all excited!! Many of the docs having been going on these missions for all or most of the 11 years. We have all become a close knit family.
Komedyplast was founded a couple of years after Caring Clowns International (I am on their Board of Directors). 2015 was their 10th anniversary. They have completed over 170 surgeries in the 10 year period…all successful.
They are one of a kind nonprofit, because they focus on correcting complex facial anomalies, in addition to doing cleft lip and cleft palate corrections. Typically there are about 15 on the medical team- Craniofacial surgeons and Neurosurgeons, Anesthesiologists and Scrub Techs.
During the week the surgeons operate in two ORs, and perform about 20-25 surgeries, many of which are the full facial reconstructions – 7-9 hour surgeries.
Four clowns typically go on these medial/clowning missions to Peru. This is our 11th year with Komedyplast– and we have been on all their missions to Peru. We are officially their international entertainment troupe.
We clown all day during the day of screening- when the Doctors take a last look at kids for potential surgeries. While families are waiting, we entertain them all – kids and adults. Typically there are about 150-200 families that come for the screening.
Sometimes we are there when the children are prepped and wheeled into the OR: holding a hand, patting a face, giving physical and verbal “abrazos” (hugs).
While the Doctors are in surgery on Monday and Tuesday, we spend going bed-to-bed throughout the 700 bed children’s hospital, and go around Lima and surrounding areas putting on 1 hour shows for kids in orphanages, schools for the disabled, shanty towns, another hospital, etc. We typically do 3 shows a day and hand out red noses and balloon animals. Wednesday and Thursday, we spend time with the kids and families in recovery and go to other venues putting on shows.
In a typical week we will use 6,000 balloons and give away 1,000 noses.
The Doctors pay their own way for these “missions,” and sometimes go back during the year between missions to check on patients with their Peruvian counterparts.
We will be in touch as we clown in Peru!!!
For Flora, Sox and Sparkles, too
Well, we haven’t left yet. Tomorrow is the big travel day for Flora, Sparkles and me leaving from Seattle through Dallas to Lima (and most of the docs leaving from New York and Chicago). Lima is 3 hours ahead of us in Seattle (like New York time).
Sox had a much longer trip from Uganda through Brazil to Lima (He left today, so he will be there when we arrive Friday.)
We will be primarily “working” at the new Children’s Hospital – Instituto Nacional de Salud del Niño in San Borja, a district of Lima.
Since we have not been at this hospital before, it will be a new experience for both the medical and the clown teams. I expect that Friday, we will all tour the hospital and get the lay of the land.
Here is a video when the hospital opened. (It looks pretty spiffy compared to the old hospital). Hospital Video
Well, I guess I can’t hold off packing any more, or I am not going anywhere!
We will be in touch through the week.
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too
First leg was Seattle to Dallas…4 hours.
Then Dallas to Lima…6 hours plus, photos….with Claudia and David, who we met on the flight.
(Noses for both flight crews, too)
Flora, Sparkles and I arrived in Lima at about 6:20 a.m. Friday, then 45 minutes to our hotel.
Sox is here. Flew from Uganda through Brazil, and arrived Thursday.
We will rest up a bit, then probably all head to the hospital to get acquainted in preparation for clowning/doctor screening all day Saturday. (This is the new Children’s Hospital in San Borja and new to all of us).
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too
Hi all, 3 tired clowns have arrived in Lima. Can you tell we are at the hotel? The Casa Andina Miraflores Private Collection.
We had an adventure with the traffic as always, lanes don’t matter, there were 12 lanes of traffic including lots of busses traveling in 5 lanes at one point. I know my eyes were closed, I think maybe our driver’s eyes were closed to.
We have had breakfast and are waiting for our rooms and the doctors to arrive. A shower and a nap sure sound good, more than 4 hours to wait till our rooms are ready. Patience. We left home at 10 yesterday morning it is now 9:30 am. No wonder we are tired! A good night’s sleep and we’ll be ready for the next 10 days.
Duffy and Sparkles
Well, some of the Docs showed up!! Whoo Hoo! (others coming late tonight and tomorrow).
We are all looking forward to a great week. This is our 11th mission. After all these years, we are truly family.
So even as tired as everyone is, still our first day here, this afternoon the medical team takes all their surgical supplies for use during the week and sorts and organizes it all.
One of the tenants of Komedyplast is to bring as much as they possibly can and to not be a burden to the hospital where they perform the surgeries.
Tomorrow it all starts, with the doctors screening the kids for potential surgery while the clowns play with and entertain the waiting (and anxious) families.
LET THE CLOWNING BEGIN! ( no more kidding around in street clothes for us!….well maybe just a little).
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too.
Saturday is screening day. While the doctors look at the kids, we played with those families waiting…
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too
Two major surgeries today, the plan is two major ones each day thru Thursday and 6 “simple” ones on Friday. One of the children scheduled for today had a fever so the Doctor traded one scheduled for Wednesday. Speaks well of the expertise and flexibility of these Doctors.
We, us 4 clowns and Eliana as our guide and translator, visited 3 floors of Los Ninos today. We began by meeting the director of the hospital and her staff (pictured) and then off to see two of the girls we first met on Sat that are sched for surgery on Friday. Their room filled quickly with a newsman, photographer, hospital director, Euslava (not sure on the spelling), Jeff Weinswieg and us Clowns. We all made the local news.
Much more enjoyable was visiting three youngins with leukemia having chemo treatment and 25 in the burn unit. I was pleased with the cleanliness of the children and their rooms. Mostly thankful with the seeming void of pain for these children who have experienced extensive burns. Burns are quite common in the poorer areas as fires are built on the ground and huge pots of water are heated there. We heard many sad stories and saw many big smiles. We spent the most of our time here one on one with the kids. As we were leaving we passed one of the young boys standing on his bed with his sword, our turn to really smile, we knew our visit had made a difference to these kids if only for a little while.
Tomorrow we are going early to visit more leukemia patients as they come in for their chemo treatment.
Today was a good day!
The medical team finished up with several surgeries yesterday, and we have packed up our grease paint, costumes and gags for the trip home- no balloons or red noses to take back.
It seems to me that each of these missions is the same but so unique.
The “work” we all do in our different disciplines is the same, but the connection we make with each child, parent and hospital staff is its own…and every one reflects the love and caring of what we are all involved in.
I have been coming on these trips with Komedplast a long time now. I am still awestruck by how and what these doctors and surgical technicians do. To say they change kids’ lives with the surgeries they perform is such an understatement. Life changing just doesn’t seem to convey the impact they have on the children and their families.
I have never met such a humble and genuinely caring group of people. They do miraculous things in the quietest way- so precisely and so gracefully. And at every turn, they literally hold the life of every child in their hands.
The Komedplast team has performed well over 100 surgeries now, and every one has been a success.
They are amazing human beings and they consider us clowns part of their family.(How cool is that!).
I never have adequate words to express how much we clowns appreciate and love each of them.
Mid week each of us received a personal brief letter from the manager of the hotel where we are staying.
It pretty well captures what these missions are all about…
“The amazing job you are doing and the lessons you give us on how to live with our souls and hearts spreading love and kindness all around, without expecting nothing is unbelievable! We are honored to be hosting such an amazing team at or Hotel. Welcome again.” (From Elisabeth Henkelmann, Hotel Manager, Casa Andina Private Collection, Miraflores, Lima )
For all of us clowns, we too are honored to be part of this marvelous continuing journey.