“A lot of times, they get equipment donated from different companies or groups, … and they don’t know how to use it or how to use it safely,” Ard said. “(We) will be able to teach surgeons to do things we’re doing on their own.” Tena, capital of the Napo Province and once a key colonial trading post, is now a center of commerce. It is located five hours southeast of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. The Santa Clarita Valley International Program, a nonprofit group, has joined with Milagros Para Nios Foundation to organize the trip. The goal is to establish relationships that foster education, economic growth and cultural awareness. More than 100 children are on a waiting list for the procedures. Cevallos and a Tena pediatrician have arranged for a dentist to treat children in the outlying villages. For this purpose, the University of Southern California has donated two collapsible dental chairs at Cevallos’ request. The group is due to leave April 29 and return May 6. Cash donations are being sought to help defray the cost of medicines. Volunteers are also being sought to assist the medical crew. No experience is necessary. An unscheduled day during the weeklong trip might be spent rafting or kayaking on the Amazon River, a popular destination for water sports. A translator who speaks the local dialect, Quecha, will be on hand. In May, another group will travel to sister city Sariaya in the Philippines on a medical mission. For more information, contact Amparo Cevallos at (661) 263-0512, or Elena Galvez, at (661) 255-4317. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Six doctors, including two anesthesiologists, and four nurses will volunteer their time, and some have donated frequent-flier miles for the trip. Thirty children were treated during the earlier trip – in October 2004. “The first trip was so successful that doctors in both communities, the U.S. and Ecuador, want to continue to provide these life-changing opportunities to these kids,’ said Elena Galvez, a management analyst for the city of Santa Clarita. “It’s a challenge to get doctors. They’re donating all their time. We didn’t have to twist anybody’s arm. They wanted to go back.” The facial disfigurements may be more than cosmetic. An untreated cleft lip can result in speech problems, and if the teeth are affected the child may have trouble chewing and digesting food. A cleft palate blocks the tongue and could cause a child’s words to sound unintelligible. “A lot of times people are judged as mentally retarded or developmentally delayed,” said Jennifer Ard, an operating-room nurse at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. In the past year, Ard has launched Los Angeles-based Milagros Para Nios Foundation – or the Miracles for Kids Foundation – made up of doctors and nurses who travel the globe on medical missions. The delegation to Tena will have three surgeons, including a pediatric reconstructive surgeon. All but one member of the medical team are based at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. A general surgeon will teach local doctors how to use laparascopic instruments, so they can make small incisions and perform surgery with the aid of a tiny camera embedded in the scope. SANTA CLARITA – A local pastor is finalizing plans for a team of Los Angeles area doctors and nurses who will leave in April for the second medical mission to Santa Clarita’s sister city in Ecuador. The group will spend a week in Tena, a city of about 20,000 in the Amazon rain forest, where surgeons will correct cleft lip and palate deformities for dozens of children who live in outlying villages. “It’s very rewarding for a person to see the happiness and joy in the children – how their faces change when the doctor is looking at them – and the parents cannot express their gratitude,” said Amparo Cevallos, who reached out to the mayor of Tena to provide lodging and meals for the group. Cevallos and her husband, Guillermo, are co-pastors of the Centro de Amor Cristiano Church in Newhall.