“Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that heals children’s smiles, forever changing their lives.” The organization that was started by Dr. Bill Magee and his wife Kathy over 30 years ago after a trip to the Philippines never fails to inspire. Operation Smile’s all volunteer medical teams work in over 60 countries around the globe and have performed over 200,000 surgeries free of charge for children who were born with a cleft lip and cleft palate or other facial deformities.
This week I will be going to La Romana in the Dominican Republic for a week to help some of these children. I am fortunate to have been a medical volunteer for Operation Smile for over 15 years. It is surprising to me when people ask me why I continue to volunteer after this length of time. The answer: I simply can’t think of a better way to spend my time or share my own talents than to help a child who may be unable to eat, speak, or socialize due to an unfortunate birth defect. The truth is, as anyone who has ever volunteered with Op Smile will tell you, volunteers receive much more than they give on every mission. There is simply no greater reward in medicine than handing a child, post-surgery, back to his parents and to see the tears in their eyes and the shared joy of knowing that the child and their family have been made better by your effort.
According to Operation Smile, every three minutes a child somewhere in the world is born with a cleft. In some cultures, these children are isolated, shunned or rejected. Quite often the child’s parents don’t have the resources to be able to give them the surgery they require to lead a normal life. A short, 45- minute surgical procedure, which costs around $240, quite literally changes the life of the child, their family and often the community in which they live. If you are looking for a way to make a real difference in the world, please consider Operation Smile – they literally change children’s lives, one smile at a time.
Happy 30th Anniversary Operation Smile.
Dr. Ringler will be volunteering in the Dominican Republic for Operation Smile the third week in September, 2012.