Giving back to the community has always been a core philosphy of mine and I have been privileged to be a part of this organisation since 2012.
Operation Smile is a non-profit organisation based in the USA that provides free and safe cleft lip and palate surgery to both adults and children in countries in which this service is either not available, or inadequate to meet demand. It was founded by Dr “Bill” Magee, a craniofacial plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathy, a then social worker and nurse, in 1982 and now has a global reach through its numerous relationships with NGO’s worldwide. More or less at any given time, a surgical mission is taking place somewhere in the world.
The missions are wholly staffed by international and local (in country) volunteers. It is a well-oiled machine that allows people of various backgrounds and ethnicities drawn from many different countries, to come together with a common cause – to assist those in need of safe cleft surgery.
A team usually comprises in-country staff that assist in raising awareness of the condition as well as arranging for the patients to be transported to a centre where the mission surgery will take place. A group on international & local volunteers would include surgeons, anaesthetists, paediatricians, intensivists, nurses, child life specialists, dentists, orthodontists, speech pathologists, photographers, record keeping staff and more – all of whom give of their time freely to assist those in need.
In as little as 45 minutes, a lip can be repaired, a life can be forever changed, a family can be brought together and normalcy can prevail. Children in many 3rd world countries who are born with a cleft lip and / or palate are usually shunned, kept hidden from general society and never afforded the opportunity to realise themselves in childhood or beyond.
Operation Smile relies entirely on donations to find the logistics of its operations. I have been privileged to be a part of the organisation since 2012 having volunteered in missions in Rwanda, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique and Ghana – playing a small part in helping out, and forging friendships with other like-minded volunteers. Should you wish to donate to this very worthwhile cause please click on the buttons below.