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Our Work in Rwanda

Our Work in Rwanda

Since 2010, Operation Smile has provided free care to more than 2,000 patients with cleft conditions and other surgical needs in Rwanda. Today, Operation Smile's investments and partnerships with the Ministry of Health and the University of Rwanda help ensure access to safe, timely and affordable surgery by training local workforce.

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Beyond Cleft Care: Training Surgeons in Rwanda

With only two plastic surgeons serving a population of 13 million people, Operation Smile's goal is to increase surgical capability by delivering safe, timely cleft and reconstructive care for the people of Rwanda and support neighboring countries.

By partnering with the University of Rwanda, Operation Smile is helping to address the significant need for safe surgical care in the country through different training programs for both anesthesiologists and general and plastic surgeons. Since the beginning of this collaboration in 2015, the number of in-country plastic surgeons has leapt from two to five. Additionally, 22 general surgeons have been trained in plastic surgery techniques. They are located throughout the country, enabling more Rwandans to access timely, safe surgical care than ever before.

By 2027, Operation Smile aims to train 10 new plastic surgeons and more anesthesiologists. This is a five-fold increase in the number of certified plastic surgeons in the country, and this will allow thousands more children to have access to safe, timely and affordable surgical care. 

Jean, Before and After Surgery
Jacqueline, Before and After Surgery
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Francoise Mukagaju

Meet Rwanda's First Female Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Francoise Mukagaju is Rwanda's first female plastic surgeon and will complete her training through Operation Smile's partnership with the University of Rwanda this fall. She is committed to remaining in Rwanda to help her people. "It is important for us to stay in our country, to serve our population," she says. "Because we have seen the need, and it is for us to meet that need."


It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.