A smile transcends all countries, languages and cultures. To share a smile you share a connection with a stranger or a friend. In Svay Rieng, Cambodia, where very few people spoke English, a smile was a language spoken and used by all. Shared with our beautiful patients, their loving families, our fellow volunteers, local staff or the welcoming community; a smile really can speak a thousand words. That’s, in essence, why it was such a pleasure and a privilege to help provide 77 new smiles to the people of Cambodia.
Svay Rieng was chosen for our mission site after the devastating story of baby ‘Lucky’ surfaced. A baby girl born with a cleft lip, who was buried alive by her father soon after birth. He believed her to be a devil child because of her facial deformity. Astonishingly, baby Lucky was rescued and is alive and well. Operation Smile Cambodia will provide her free surgery when she is old enough. It was obvious from this story and throughout our mission that education about clefts would be of huge benefit to the province.
We also met a young boy whose number was ‘007’ so everyone affectionately called him ‘Bond’. He was 5 years old and terrified of everyone who came near him. His attentive and grateful mum admitted he had been kept inside his entire young life, due to his cleft lip. The only people he had ever seen were his immediate family members. His challenging behaviour was so understandable.
Working night shifts for this mission was a first time for me. I would never say that volunteering for a mission is easy, but our job as night nurses was certainly made easier by the competent day team! We also had the assistance of Brian, a new friend, who is a Cambodian medical student and our translator - who we would have been lost without! Limited beds meant we had to double up on the few we had and sometime had four people (with family) sleeping on the one bed. Most of the kids slept well and there wasn’t any major issues. Their patient and grateful parents often didn’t though. People attempted to sleep anywhere they could - which sometimes made getting to the kids challenging!
The Operation Smile Australia and Operation Smile Cambodia Friendship Mission to Svay Rieng was a huge success and was true to our cause. We provided surgery to those that needed it, educated staff, patients, parents and the community. So many new friendships were discovered with fellow volunteers from Cambodia, Australia, India and the USA. Lots of fun was had and memorable moments shared too; like our sole American on the team, Glenn, who shaved his 32 year old moustache and head, and Abhishek, shaving his beard and moustache, after the team raised $500 for Operation Smile Cambodia.
To share a smile with someone is special, to give the gift of a smile is the most amazing feeling in the world!
12 March 2015
KangaNews Awards Dinner 12 March 2015
KANGANEWS has proudly supported Operation Smile Australia at its last four annual awards dinners.
Since the collaboration between KangaNews and Operation Smile started, guests at the annual KangaNews awards dinners have raised $267,205.00 for Operation Smile Australia. Since 2012 this money has funded medical volunteers attending 32 medical missions in 11 countries.
On behalf of, and in conjunction with, KangaNews CEO Samantha Swiss we would like to sincerely thank everyone for their kind and generous donations at KangaNews Awards Dinners, 2012-2015.
18 November 2014
Operation Smile Mission, Vinh City, Vietnam
It was with great excitement that our group of 60 volunteers from many countries around the world met in Hanoi for a 7.5 hour bus ride to Vinh City to embark on changing the lives of as many children and adults as possible during medical mission for repairing cleft lips and cleft palates.
We arrived at Vinh City to overcast skies, warm weather and threatening rain but this did not dampen our spirits. On arrival at the hospital we were to work at, we were shown to an area of a building still being completed but quite usable, however we went about setting up our area for screening the next day.
On arriving bright and early for our first day of screening, we were met by a large crowd of parents and children with the hope that we would be able to help them. The children and their families soon became our friends and enjoyed playing with us while they waited for their turn to be seen and checked by our volunteers. The day progressed with lots of fun and laughter and when we finished, we had seen 213 patients who required surgery.
Then the bad news was delivered! Our cargo was held up in Customs! We could only hope it would arrive the next day but no, not to be. Then we were told it would be delivered ‘sometime’ the next day.
We all arrived at the hospital the next day, Tuesday, when in pulled a big red bus – full or our cargo!!! Wow! Great excitement – we could begin work!
Later that day all was ready and work was to start in earnest the next morning. We only had 2.5 days of operating but with the dedication of the group we managed to complete 63 surgeries. That meant that 63 children had their smiles and lives changed for the better.
Our working days may be long, but when one sees the fear and trepidation of our little patients and their parents when we collect them for surgery and then the look of sheer joy and thankfulness on the parent’s face when they first see them again. It is such a joy as a volunteer. This operation not only changes the child’s life but the whole family and village, as they are now able to go to school, learn, work and are also seen as marriageable.
All too soon, our mission was completed and we were on our way back to our respective homes around the world, new friendships forged, and the knowledge that as a group of approximately 60 volunteers we had overcome our earlier problems and changed 63 lives for the better, one smile at a time.
There were 5 groups of medical volunteers who met and worked together over 5 sites in Vietnam as part of the 25th Anniversary of Operation Smile Vietnam. It was such a privilege and pleasure to be part of this mission.
Lions Club of Holland Park
18 April 2013
Through the camera lens
During Operation Smile's 30th Anniversary medical missions to the Philippines, we conducted more than 8,000 free healthcare evaluations and performed 1,219 free reconstructive surgeries.
Here is the story of two little girls whose lives were changed forever as told by volunteer Alison Smyth.
While traveling last week for a follow-up with two sisters I met during Operation Smile's 30th anniversary medical missions in the Philippines, I began to recall the first steps of their journey that I had documented in November.
I met little Jheleen and Andrea at their humble home in Manila, Philippines, on a warm afternoon late last year. I was there with volunteer videographer Jason Eng to film and document what would be a life-changing experience for these girls and their family.
The sisters were shy and very serious, but from the beginning their devotion and love for each other was obvious.
When Jheleen was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, her mother was devastated. Then, a year later, Andrea was also born with a cleft lip. A local doctor told them surgery could be performed, but not until the girls were 7 years old. It was such a long time, and the cost was prohibitive for this hurting family.
Hope came unexpectedly when a neighbor gave the family a flyer about Operation Smile's medical mission in Cavite, where the girls were able to receive free surgery to repair their cleft lips.
One of the most amazing experiences I have had in my 14 years as an Operation Smile volunteer came as the two girls were reunited together, with their parents, after surgery.
Once fully awake, the sisters could not keep their eyes from each other's beautiful new smiles.
As their mother held little Andrea in her arms, she cried as her young daughter was able to say "Mama" properly for the first time.
As I walked into the room at the Comprehensive Care Center in Manila four months later, anticipating the arrival of the two little girls who stole my heart, the beautiful girls jumped into my arms smiling from ear-to-ear, with no sign that they had ever had gaping holes in their mouths.
In this moment, I understood that I was blessed to witness how these children's lives have been changed by supporters from around the world, like you, who they would never meet.
In April, the girls’ journey to a new life will be completed when they both come back to the Comprehensive Cleft Care Center in Manila for surgery to repair their cleft palates…
Their dream will finally come true.
19 December 2012
The National Children’s Fundraising Appeal
Over the holiday season, Operation Smile Australia has partnered with The Smith Family, TLC for kids, Angels Goal Inc, Kids Under Cover and participating pharmacies all around Australia to raise funds for children in need. All proceeds raised from the appeal will be used to support not just one but five amazing charities that are working hard to improve the lives of children. Look for us in your local pharmacy or donate online at www.theappeal.com.au!
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18 December 2012
We've teamed up with Wrapp
We've teamed up with Wrapp, so you can now send Operation Smile Australia gifts & donations on behalf of your Facebook friends from your mobile.
To celebrate, we've decided to give you a gift as well, so click here to download the app & receive a treat from our friends Roses Only.
31 October 2012
Gift Wrapping Service
Attention Canberra! The Canberra Centre and Operation Smile Australia have partnered to bring relief to children in developing countries. Get you gifts wrapped and donate to a great cause...
26 October 2012
Operation Smile Australia Christmas Cards – Order Now!
Christmas is just around the corner – have you ordered your cards yet? We are selling large, high quality cards and gift tags!
10 large cards for $17.50 20 gift labels for $6.00 Packs of 10 cards and 20 labels for @19.90 (Standard postage included)
Spread good will with your Christmas wishes this year and create change forever!
Operation Smile Australia at the Beach Boys Australian Tour
Operation Smile has been given the opportunity to form a partnership with the Beach Boys during their upcoming Australian tour. This entails the band playing a video supporting Operation Smile during their performance and the opportunity for volunteers to stand at entry and exit points as well as the foyer of the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne venues to collect donations before, during and after the concert! This was an amazing opportunity for Operation Smile Australia.
The tour dates of the Beach Boys Australian tour;
Brisbane Entertainment Centre – August 28
Sydney Allphones Arena – August 30
Melbourne Rod Laver Arena – August 31
The Brisbane concert was on Tuesday night and was a massive success, although we are waiting on definite figures the volunteers did an amazing job and we would love to thank them for donating their time, it was much appreciated.
With the volunteers in Sydney tonight, and Melbourne tomorrow night there is plenty of opportunities for Operation Smile Australia to raise money to help change lives one smile at a time!