Operation Smile is a charity organization for children – donate non profit
Operation Smile is a charity organization for children – donate non profit
 

September 21, 2010

Antananarivo, Madagascar: September 12-20, 2010

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The Operation Smile Madagascar team has successfully provided 179 Malagasy people with new smiles!

We can’t believe that after months and weeks and preparation, it’s all over. Yesterday the team departed and it was great to see everyone in high spirits and see the new friendships and bonds that were made over this short time. That is the great thing about the Operation Smile team – aside from touching others’ lives who you do not know, your own life is touched.

As always, we could not have completed this mission without the in-country support. Communication during a mission is vital and these local volunteer translators from Peace Corps, Leo Club and Youth for Christ ensured that there was always clear communication between team members, hospital staff and patients. Their job is not easy and yet each day they came back, enthusiastic and excited for the day. All of them are grateful for the experience and many have described it as the best thing they have done in their lives so far.

Today, our small post-op team and translators conducted the post-operative assessment where 174 patients returned for their post-operative care. Wounds are healing beautifully and new smiles are already shining brightly.

The mission might be over, but the effects of the mission are not. Lives have been changed for good. :)

Many thanks,

- Meagan Stuurman, Program Coordinator, Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA)

Tags:   From the Field

September 19, 2010

Antananarivo, Madagascar: September 12-20, 2010

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It’s the second last day of surgery and we have already provided new smiles for 122 patients!

This morning all the Operating Room nurses left early to set up and so did the Pre-Op team to ensure that when everyone else arrived at the hospital, patients would be set for surgery. We have 42 patients scheduled for today and trust all will run smoothly and safely.

Yesterday, 42 patients were operated on. With all six tables being general tables, the last patients on each table were local patients and this has proved to be efficient.

Our guests from Elizabeth Arden (one of our Operation Smile South Africa sponsors) comprised of two Elizabeth Arden representatives and nine journalists from various South African publications departed yesterday and were full of praise for Operation Smile and what we strive towards. They have said that we now have 11 new Operation Smile ambassadors and with all the readers of these publications, we will have thousands more.

Tonight Heather Whitehead, our volunteer in medical records who is actually a chef, will be cooking for the team at the hotel. We look forward to this.

- Meagan Stuurman, Program Coordinator, Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA)

Tags:   From the Field

September 18, 2010

Antananarivo, Madagascar: September 12-20, 2010

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The operations are going well, the surgeons and other volunteers have found their rhythm and the music is even more eclectic. Gian Luca holds his phone up so the surgeon working on a simple cleft can listen to an Italian aria. In another operating room, Radiohead are a fitting sound for much more intense surgery on a cleft palate. 100 smiles are blooming. Another 75 to go.

Vaviosa appears in the surgery ward with her father.

A doctor examines her and the translator explains to me that she cannot be admitted for surgery because she has developed an infection on her lips. She is given medication and told that unless the infection clears up by Monday, she will have to wait till next year’s mission to have the operation.

Vaviosa and her father return to the ward to wait. Nine years she has been living with this deformity. Vaviosa’s strength is in her eyes, but there is so much else inside right now. She looks inward and contemplates waiting another year.

- Anton Crone, Operation Smile Supporter

Tags:   From the Field

September 16, 2010

Antananarivo, Madagascar: September 12-20, 2010

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September 16, 2010

We finished the first day of surgery and what a successful day it was! We have just returned from the hospital where 42 patients received surgery! 

Some patients also traveled a long distance for their post-operative assessment and we managed to assess them too.

David Grier, extreme sportsman who raises money for Operation Smile South Africa in association with Cipla and the Miles for Smiles foundation, departed from Tana today. David and his family had been here since Sunday as David has been documenting patient stories and volunteer experiences on the Miles for Smiles website.

- Meagan Stuurman, Program Coordinator, Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA)

Tags:   From the Field

September 15, 2010

Antananarivo, Madagascar: September 12-20, 2010

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September 15, 2010

We checked into our hotel and it was straight off to the hospital to meet up with the Operation Smile team who were already half way through the first day of screening.

We drove into the grounds of this massive hospital complex, grey stained buildings, sun parched grounds and masses of people trickling in and out of the front gate, things were happening here.

As we approached the screening are, I could see the masses of people, lots of then looking quite bewildered, lost as well as overwhelmed with what was happening. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of a distorted, twisted face shielded from my view.

What really struck me was the amount of little children wrapped in light linen, hidden from the scrutinizing eyes of the public. I could feel the inner hurt of the mother, but I could also feel the overwhelming sense of hope that was awash in the air. This was the biggest amount of people that I had ever seen at a screening that I had been to, but over the next 2 days, there were more that were on their way.

We climbed up four flights of stairs, finally reaching the screening floor, where each child is screened to see if they are healthy enough to undergo surgery.

The Operation Smile team quietly and effortlessly work through the queue of children, everything is so well organized. The love and passion that is shown from this group of volunteers who constantly give up months of their time never ceases to amaze me.

- David Grier, Operation Smile Supporter

Read more on David's blog >>

Tags:   From the Field

September 15, 2010

Antananarivo, Madagascar: September 12-20, 2010

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September 15, 2010

Vaviosa

While Operation Smile prepares four operating rooms for 180 surgeries, we go to the Catholic church where some of the patients and their families are being looked after.

About 20 families share the hall which has bedding of woven mattresses and patterned Malagasy sheets. It’s a happy atmosphere, made merry by the arrival of the journalists who are a nice distraction for the children and parents who are contemplating the surgery. I made contact with Vaviosa and Raissa again, both of whom will be operated on in the next few days.

Vaviosa and her father walked a whole day to get to the road, and then travelled another day in a taxi to get here.

Her father says she is treated very well at school and never faces much ridicule, but she does have 6 brothers to protect her!

She is also, clearly, a beauty and when one is fortunate enough to encounter people like Vaviosa, one realizes how much one’s character and is captured in the eyes.

Raissa

It’s the first time I have seen Raissa awake, and she is a flirt.

I am wrapped around her finger and it is mostly because of that incredible smile. There is also something wonderful about her naivety. Because of her age she is probably unable to recognize her deformity. And it’s hard for people who meet her to recognize it because she is just so cute. You could say her smile suits her. Then one only has to contemplate how she might look when she is older.

 
Raissa was born with a facial deformity that gives her a unique smile. Operation Smile medical volunteers will operate on her to give her an even brighter smile.

Raissa’s sister takes much of the pressure off her mother of looking after Raissa, but when they are together, the close knit trio seem to be the center of the room. Everyone gets along, as people do when they are thrown together and, outsider sentiment aside; there is little sense of an individual journey for the people here.

I’ll be in scrubs tomorrow, and the next few days with Vaviosa and Raissa as their new smiles come into being.

In speaking to the many doctors and specialists here, many of whom are on a mission for the eighth or ninth time, I realize this is no practice session for them and it is certainly no working holiday.

I am starting to understand, as I meet some of these children and their families, that it is the shared journey that keeps them coming back.

- Anton Crone, Operation Smile Supporter

Read more on Anton's blog >>

Tags:   From the Field

September 14, 2010

Antananarivo, Madagascar: September 12-20, 2010

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Vaviosa and her father walked a whole day to get to the road, then travelled another day in a taxi to get to the mission site, hoping to receive surgery.

September 14 

The Madagascar mission is underway and so far all has been good.

The last volunteers arrived today and the team is absolutely wonderful.

Screening and Scheduling
On Sunday and Monday, we managed to screen 398 patients and 78 obturators are in the making. Today, the schedule was announced and we have 174 patients scheduled for surgery! New patients have still come today and we will continue screening for the rest of week and give these patients, return cards for next year.

Team
With regards to our international volunteers, they are doing well. Luis Crespo from Panama is great and positive leader and the Italians have also been superb. On the Sunday, the Italians were the last to leave with screening and seeing to labs. I collected Dotty Bates (nurse -USA) and Heba Hussein (surgeon - Egypt) from the airport today and both ladies are just lovely. We look forward to working with them all.

Tonight the team had a dinner hosted by Lions Club, one of our greatest support and sponsors and they thoroughly enjoyed it. They are really being treated like royalty here at the hotel and the hospital.

- Meagan Stuurman, Program Coordinator, Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA)

Tags:   From the Field, Madagascar

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