Operation Smile celebrates it’s 30th anniversary via “The Journey Home” — an event aimed to provide free reconstructive surgery to 4,500 Filipino children and young adults in different parts of the country.
This such a fitting moment for the international children’s medical charity organization whose founder traces the institution’s roots in the Philippines. In 1982, plastic surgeon Dr. William P. Magee Jr. with his wife, registered nurse Kathleen S. Magee, visited the Philippines as part of a delegation of medical volunteers coming to repair children’s cleft lips and cleft palates. They encountered hundreds of children with deformities.
As they headed back to Norfolk, Virginia in the USA, the Magees swore to be back as they see the enormous need. Operation Smile was born and they started soliciting donations of surgical equipment and supplies from manufacturers and conducted fund raising. The rest, as they say, is history, as Operation Smile is now a global institution conducting medical charity work not only in the Philippines, but all over the world.
Why give such attention to children with these deformities, you might ask, when there are more people inflicted with life-threatening diseases? At “The Journey Home” press launch last June 6th, I was made to realize that these kids differing from cleft lips or palate are experiencing a different level of suffering. At an early age, they get ridiculed, teased, and experience embarrassment. This could go on in their lives as they grow up and are likely to suffer from insecurities. Most of them won’t likely have the similar opportunity in life like others would. And with that kind of life, it’s better not to have been born at all.
Operation Smile acknowledges this fact and had been working to help the underprivileged live and enjoy the opportunity they deserve — to smile and live a normal life. One if the recipient of the organization’s worthy deed is Chadleen Lacdo-o — a former cleft palate patient, now a singer. She is a finalist of the Little Big Star competition in Cebu in 2005. She sang the National Anthem on the boxing event between Bazooka AJ Banal of the Philippines versus Rafael Concepcion of Panama. Her childhood dream of being a singer came true with the help of Operation Blessing and has performed locally and abroad. Chadleen, the singing ambassador of Operation Smile Philippines was at the press con where she performed beautifully to everyone’s delight. Without my knowledge of her medical condition, I wouldn’t know she had such physical deformity before. I’m amazed, and blessed.
Let’s help making the dreams of other kids like Chadleen come true. Smart Communications Public Affairs Group Head Ramon Isberto pointed out at the launch that 4,000 kids are born with cleft condition in the Philippines. Smart has been supporting the organization in the form of donation, technology and information. With it’s parent company, PLDT, Smart heels the 500 Smile Run in November 2011 where over 8,000 runners attended, creating a venue for public involvement and generating support for Operation Smile activities.
Everyone can help, big or small, from every walks of life. It only takes about 45 minutes for a successful surgery that can change a child’s life forever. Let’s support “The Journey Home”which will begin on October 25-30, 2012 with a big dental mission in Koronadal, South Cotabato and will be followed by waves if surgical mission which will end on December 2, 2012.