The trip to Qiqihar, took Dr. Hobbs and the team to one of the most northern cities in China. It is a progressive city that includes a university and language institute from which the team was able to have some excellent translators.
Qiqihar, in the province of Heilongjiang, has over 1.4 million people and is located about the same latitude as Seattle, Washington. Being farther inland Qiqihar experiences four distinct seasons with long, cold winters, short spring and fall, and warm, humid summers.
Over the 2 weeks Dr. Hobbs’ team completed 80 surgeries, mostly cleft lips and cleft palates. The faces of the parents say it all. One father, a pilot, flew across the country to be with his daughter when she had her cleft lip repaired. Those with cleft lip revisions were happy to have adjustments to improve their appearance and function.
For a break between the first and second weeks of surgery the team visited the largest wildlife sanctuary for red-crowned cranes in the world, Zhalong Nature Reserve. These amazing birds are kept in special housing from which they are freed twice a day to feed and return. The photos that Dr. Hobbs took give a small glimpse into their sanctuary life.
Among the highlights of the trip, Dr. Hobbs was able to visit a Saturday, 6:00 am, outdoor English language class at the local university. The students were very enthusiastic and many spoke English well. Another day the team encountered a wedding party that had announced their day with firecrackers and gas powered launchers at 7:00 am outside the team’s hotel.
Other sights around Qiqihar, Beijing and the Great Wall are best seen in a few photos. Qiqihar is a beautiful city with great people and culture.