Operation SmileCofounder Kathy S. Magee
My husband and I were invited to volunteer on a cleft mission the Philippines because his background was plastic surgery and mine was in nursing. It was the best decision we ever made. There were so many kids that needed our help and we couldn't help them all, so Bill and I promised to come back. We went home to Virginia and got to work to make sure we returned to help those kids. We returned in 1982 as Operation Smile.
To think bigger. In our earlier programs, we had just enough resources and medical supplies for the immediate need. We needed to think bigger, plan bigger to ultimately help so much more.
That cleft surgery is purely cosmetic. This surgery changes a person's life in many different aspects, like the ability to eat and speak for example.
I met a seven-day-old baby during our first trip to Vietnam more than 30 years ago. A mother motioned me into her room and showed me her baby - so small and weak from having trouble feeding. We had to create an obturator to help close the cleft palate that would allow this baby to feed and gain weight until surgery could be given. On our next trip, this mother was first in line and my heart exploded at seeing her baby at a healthy and happy weight.
1. Talk about Operation Smile every chance you get, to help advocate for those cleft conditions. You never know if someone in your network can join us to help change lives.
2. Donate. For as little as $240, a child's life can be changed forever.
3. If you have children, we have student programs designed to empower the youth to become our future leaders. All of my 14 grandchildren are involved!