Local Program Operations
New Smiles in Bolivia
The pandemic proved particularly challenging for Bolivia, where childhood malnutrition and poverty are widespread. Operation Smile in Bolivia emerged from supporting its health care systems with medical supplies in early 2021 and carried out its first surgical program months later, in August. This spirit of resilience and purpose is because of unwavering partners like YOU.
Surgical programs are a source of hope for patients and their families patiently waiting for vital cleft surgeries and care. In March 2022, your generosity enabled a surgical program at the Hospital Japonés in Santa Cruz. Though the plan was to screen 100 patients during the surgical program, our global volunteers were able to screen an incredible 238 people! 93 patients received 117 cleft surgeries over just six days.
In June 2022, our dedicated medical volunteers delivered 24 new smiles to children waiting for their life-changing cleft surgery at Clínica Buena Salud, our hospital partner in Bolivia. Our medical volunteers also supported patients with speech therapy and dental, nutritional, and psychosocial care. While surgeries were on hold in 2021, patients continued to receive comprehensive cleft care virtually.
We are grateful for your ongoing partnership with Operation Smile as we work to expand cleft care in Bolivia to impact the lives of even more patients! Thank you!
Across Bolivia in 2022, it is anticipated that your support will touch the lives of:
New Smiles in Bolivia
When Maria Belen was born in Bolivia with a cleft lip and cleft palate, her mother was surprised. She didn’t know anything about cleft conditions. “I had only seen children who had already been operated on,” Maria Teresa reflected. “I didn’t know cleft lips and palates were an ongoing concern.” As a single mother and teacher, she was confused and scared for her daughter’s future.
“I found Operation Smile online while doing research,” Maria Teresa recalls. “I called and was told there would be a surgical program happening the next month. I felt hopeful for the first time.”
Maria Teresa had endured the pain of criticisms from strangers about her daughter’s appearance. At just a month and a half old, Maria Belen was too young for surgery at the time. Instead, Operation Smile partners like YOU ensured mother and daughter received the help they needed through Operation Smile’s comprehensive cleft care programs.
Maria Belen initially had difficulties breastfeeding until our dental volunteers fitted her with an obturator (feeding plate) to ensure she would get the nutrients she needed to thrive. In addition to dental care and consultations, she also received nutrition consultations and nutritious food to maintain her good health for surgery.
Maria Belen was soon scheduled for her first cleft lip surgery and continued to receive comprehensive care until she was ready for her cleft palate surgery in June 2022. Today, she beams with pride and excitement whenever a camera is nearby.
“As a single mother, you need the support. The truth is that I have benefited from Operation Smile, and I feel grateful to everyone because they have always supported me at every stage and at every moment that I have needed them,” says Maria Teresa gratefully. “I want to thank every Operation Smile partner for supporting us.”