The Price of Being Born Different
There is no doubt that for children with facial deformities, school can be a cruel place, thanks to the often brutal honesty of other children. Many of these children fail to flourish in school because of the taunting they receive, and still others stop attending altogether. But being mocked for their differences is not the only problem that children with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate have to face. There are very real issues with speech development, ear disease, dental problems, and even with the ability to eat normally.
What Is Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate?
A cleft lip is a separation in the upper lip, while a cleft palate is a separation in the roof of the mouth or the soft tissue in the back of the mouth, which may be accompanied by an opening in the bones of the upper jaw and/or the upper gum. The condition occurs in early development inside the womb, when the two sides do not join together as they should, and can occur on one or both sides. When this happens, a baby can be born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both.
What Is Operation Smile?
Operation Smile was founded in 1982 by a plastic surgeon name Dr. William P. Magee, and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse and clinical social worker. On a trip to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers, the Magees came into contact with hundreds of children suffering with deformities, and although they were able to help many of these children, they had no choice but to turn away the vast majority of children in need of help. Seeing the overwhelming need, they were inspired to found Operation Smile, which now has its headquarters in Norfolk, VA.
Operation Smile currently funds and coordinates medical missions in 26 countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gaza Strip/West Bank, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam. The organization also provides a network of resources to help children in the U.S.
Since its inception in 1982, Operation Smile has helped more than 115,000 children. The organization celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007, and continues to recruit new volunteers, provide education, and raise funds and awareness to support its efforts to help children around the world.
The Real-Life Heroes Behind Operation Smile
Operation Smile’s mission has been embraced and supported by celebrities such as Ryan Seacrest, Janice Dickinson, Molly Sims, and others, along with corporate sponsors like Crest, Scope, and Oral-B, to name a few. But the real heroes behind this organization are the thousands of dedicated plastic surgeons, nurses, psychologists, speech pathologists, and other medical personnel who give generously of their time and talents to help those in need who would otherwise never be able to afford the surgery needed to give a child a smile he or she is proud to show to the world.
How You Can Help
If you have medical training, there is always a need for medical volunteers. There is also a place for non-medical personnel to help with fund-raising and education efforts. Of course, if you don’t have the time to volunteer, donations are always welcome. Donations of any amount can be of great help, and for as little as $240 Operation Smile can change a child's life through surgery. You can find more information on how to help this worthy cause by visiting the organization’s website at www.operationsmile.org.
While the world of cosmetic surgery sometimes takes a bad rap as being frivolous, we would all do well to remember that the money surgeons make by performing lucrative cosmetic procedures is usually what enables them to donate their time and efforts to causes like Operation Smile. So if you’ve been considering a tummy tuck or a face lift, perhaps you can feel better knowing that your plastic surgery dollars just might make it that much easier for a little boy or girl somewhere in the world to flash a big and bright smile.
Operation Smile Quick Facts, Consumer Fact Sheet, Operation Smile
The History of Operation Smile Quick Facts, Consumer Fact Sheet, Operation Smile
World Journey of Smiles, Consumer Fact Sheet, Operation Smile