Founded in 1982 by Kathleen and William Magee, Operation Smile provides medical and psychological to children that are born with cleft lips – often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. After they organized a volunteer trip to the Philippines to repair children’s cleft lips and cleft palates. There they discovered that hundreds of children are ravaged by deformities. What they saw there was a teenager resting a massive facial tumor on her head, a young boy with a bandana masking the disease that has already eaten away his mouth and nose.
At that time, approximately 300 families arrived. But the team managed to help only 40 children. And what began as an idea to help only a few people has grown into a large network of volunteers and medical missions transforming thousands of lives all over the world. Operation Smile’s main objective is to give a chance for child to smile for a lifetime because a smile can change everything. But this objective imply several goals that need to be achieve . In fact operation smile has: To run medical missions and programs which provide safe surgery all around the globe.
To apply a global standards of care which ensure that every patient treated by the charity have the same sophisticated equipment and professionals team of medical volunteers everywhere they received treatments. To provide education and training of partner countries in order for them to be able of treating this disease by their own. To promote volunteering in order to get more help in term of finance but also in term of volunteer medical team (surgeons, nurses, pediatrician, psychologist). To build self-sufficiency of partners’ countries through education and training but also by providing medical equipment.
Because the charity cannot be everywhere at the same time, every countries with a staggering demand on cleft lip and palate surgery need his own facilities and professional team. To lead the cause in order to increase awareness around the world about child’s deformation, but also to push on and encourage the research on this field. So in the future we could avoid them. Every 3 minutes, a child somewhere in the world is born with a cleft, and out of 10 born, one will die before he turns one. Since 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 2 million healthcare evaluations and conducted over 200,000 free surgical procedures.
We have medical teams in 124 sites spread in over 80 countries worldwide. We have more than 5,000 medical volunteers working with us. Our volunteers provide more than 330,000 healthcare evaluations and 18,086 free surgeries per year. We now have 12 Comprehensive Care Centres in 8 countries offering patient care as well as surgery, including post-operative care, counselling, speech therapy, dentistry, orthodontics and nutrition Tafita, from Madagascar and aged 2, travelled with his mother for over 8 hours by bus to join the Operation Smile medical mission.
Although he was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate this is the first time that his parents had ever taken him to see a doctor. The neighbors laughed at Tafita and blamed his parents for his deformity. Many people in their community innacurately believe that clefts are caused by superstitious beleifs such as a mother’s walking over a hammer during pregnancy. Tafita’s parents further worry that his condition is a punishment from God and ask themselves why Tafita has a cleft but his siblings do not.
They dream that he will have a future far different from their own daily struggles as rice farmers. They hope that one day Tafisa will be able to go to university or become a doctor. Just hours after surgery Tafita was up to his usual antics and while he may not have been up to giggling just yet, he was waving and engaging with the team and most importantly facing a future very different from the one that lay before him prior to his life-chagning surgery! Unit 15, The Coda Centre 189 Munster Road London SW6 6AW +44 (0) 844 581 1110 operationsmile. org