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Impact that never stops

Your impact never stops

Thank you for your partnership throughout this past year. And what a year it’s been. July 2019 started off like any other – there were big plans to deliver thousands of new smiles, change countless lives with safe, effective and timely surgery, and train more local medical volunteers so more children could be helped – all thanks to you.

Then in early January 2020, the world took notice of the novel coronavirus emerging in China. It picked up steam in February – spreading wider and with great speed, and the full brunt of the pandemic hit in March. Much of the world halted… and we held our collective breath. It was a global public health emergency the likes of which had not been seen in over 100 years. It touched everyone, in some way, and no one was immune from the pandemic’s impact, especially the children waiting for their new smiles.

While the pandemic changed and disrupted many of our plans, we knew while we adjusted our lives and cared for our loved ones, we also needed to remain focused on our commitment – our promise to children with cleft conditions and their families, and the thousands of local Operation Smile volunteers living in the low- and middle-income countries we serve.

There was no possible way we were going to give up on our children.

We are thankful for what your partnership allowed us to do before the pandemic – conduct surgical missions and operate 30 care centres worldwide – all of which created new smiles and provided ongoing care to patients and their families.

We’re grateful you stood with us as we responded to the pandemic in a multitude of ways. And we’re inspired that you’re allowing us to craft new plans to help us keep our promise that no child will be left behind.

While the pandemic runs its course, we’re closely monitoring local conditions and constantly evaluating when it will be safe to resume wide-scale medical missions again.

We’re doing everything possible to make sure children receive care before their future surgery and provide the best post- operative care we can provide as safely as possible to those children with new smiles and those waiting for additional surgeries.

We haven’t stopped caring and we know that you haven’t either.

Thank you again for all you do for the children we are privileged to help, and the thousands more now waiting for surgery. Together, we will give them new smiles, complete care and new reasons for hope.

Mark Climie-Elliott

Mark Climie-Elliott, CFRE
CEO and Chief Smile Officer,
Operation Smile Canada

Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson, MD, FRCSC
Chair, Board of Directors
Operation Smile Canada

Canadian Volunteers in Oujda, Morocco, March 2020
Canadian volunteers Nina Hardcastle, Candace Mielnichuk, Holly Leung, and Helen Wagner on a mission in Oujda, Morocco, March 2020

Operation Smile Canada supported medical missions, comprehensive care centres, education and training, and research in 23 countries.

July / August / September | 2019

Caring every day

Year-round care is a reality for our patients and their families at 30 comprehensive care centres around the world. They are places of hope… and of healing. This year, you impacted thousands of children’s lives who visited three care centres supported by Operation Smile Canada – in Bogotá, Colombia; Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic; and Davao in the Philippines. Every care centre is unique and offers a variety of clinical services to patients, both new and old.

Permanent care centres add an important entry point for patient families to access their local health care system. For some, it might be their only access to healthcare in general because our services are free, thanks to you. Health screening and assessments of infants with cleft conditions can address nutrition issues early on. Referrals to other specialties are common, and group counselling can help ease the many stresses families experience before their children are ready for the free surgery and care you help deliver.

Perhaps most importantly, care centres bring families together which reassures them that whatever they’re facing, they’re not facing it alone… and that’s care that never stops.

Care centres offer 36 different types of specialties and consultations (e.g. orthodontics, speech language therapy, social work and psychology).

12,535 Patient Consultations
1,204 Dental Procedures
1,744 Speech Language Sessions

Elizabeth and family arriving in Porto Velho, Brazil, having travelled over 1,200km by rickshaw to get there.

Yeli holding her daughter Elizabeth in Porto Velho, Brazil
October / November / December | 2019

Surgery changes lives

For Yoel and Yeli, theirs was a future full of uncertainty. Leaving their home in Venezuela, the family made their way to Peru searching for a new life. They were also searching for help for their 5-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, who was born with a cleft lip and palate. Unfortunately, there were no local surgical missions close to Iquitos, where they had settled, and the capital city, Lima, was far away. Yoel contacted Operation Smile Brazil and discovered a local mission in Porto Velho scheduled for December 2019.

The straight line distance between Iquitos, Peru and Porto Velho, Brazil is 1,180kms. In between is the Amazon rainforest. With nothing more than a motorized rickshaw (pictured, above), Yoel, Yeli, Elizabeth and her three sisters set out and travelled for days, by river and road, to get to Porto Velho. Along the way, strangers provided them with food, shelter and transportation.

The majority of surgical missions are local – both in terms of geography and people. This helps remove the known barriers people face when accessing surgery and healthcare. Most of the medical volunteers on local missions reside in the country or the region – meaning greater access to specialized surgery and care. Volunteers often share the same language and customs as the patients – helping to reduce fear in accessing healthcare. The local health infrastructure (i.e. health centres with surgical suites) and community partnerships are already in place, which assists in patient recruitment and keeps costs down.

While the journey through the rainforest was long and sometimes dangerous, little Elizabeth received a new smile. The family has settled in Brazil and Elizabeth is growing up fast and now waiting to get her cleft palate repaired.

January / February / March | 2020

Missions of healing

India has the second largest population in the world (1.366 billion people), so it’s no surprise the estimated backlog of people with unrepaired cleft conditions waiting for surgery is well over 200,000. Shyam was one of them. His family lives in an agricultural village in the state of West Bengal. In early January, Shyam’s parents heard about a temporary recruitment centre in Murarai, a town about 16km from Amdol, where they live. It was there Shyam had his first screening and became a candidate for a new smile in Durgapur the next month.

Patient recruitment efforts are an important part of a medical mission. In many countries, patient recruitment is the first time parents learn that free help is available for their child. Recruitment efforts can serve as a reminder of the free care available when the time is right for infants and children. They also help build local and national patient registries which helps with planning future planning future missions and local surgical initiatives.

For Shyam’s mother, her visit to our recruitment centre let her see other children younger than Shyam who had already received surgery. This reassured her that surgery for Shyam would be safe.

The Durgapur international medical mission (Feb 23 – Mar 1, 2020) was just one of six international and seven local missions funded by Operation Smile Canada. The objective was to treat 120 patients. Over 51⁄2 days, 145 patients received surgery, and 175 surgical procedures were performed.

Just before Shyam received his new smile, his grandfather, Milon, who is blind, said, “Please give my grandson a “full lip” so that he is like everyone else.”

April / May / June | 2020

Responding to a changing world

The last three months of the fiscal year were like none experienced before – by anyone, anywhere. Much of the world’s activity was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our medical missions were paused, and care centres started to serve clients virtually. Through it all our caring never stopped… and neither did your impact.

Our response to COVID-19 was immediate. We turned to our 30+ local foundations to assess the short-term needs of local clinics, hospitals and national health systems. Much of our in-stock medical supplies were donated to local health systems and partners so they could be better prepared to treat patients.

Operation Smile Canada redeployed over $500,000 of program funding to help 20 local foundations respond to the safety, health and nutritional needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This helped keep children, families, medical volunteers and communities safe and healthy. Half of the funding was to purchase additional Personal Protective Supplies locally (surgical boots, N95 masks, protective goggles, double layer mouth coverings, soap, antibacterial gel, surgical packages, disposable gowns, etc.). The other half supported program continuity initiatives such as expanded nutrition programs.

Where possible and the technology permitted, we began offering virtual counselling, speech therapy and eventually, virtual patient assessments. In some countries not fully prepared to deal with such a broad- based public health emergency, Operation Smile became a source of infection-prevention health information to our patient families and the broader community.

The impact of COVID-19 was acutely felt by our patients. Fourteen missions were postponed along with the 1,215 planned surgeries. Thousands of children didn’t receive their new smiles or the aftercare they needed. Now, 56% of surgeries planned for FY20 are prioritized for FY21.

Financial stewardship

Our accountability and financial stewardship to you is important. The Fiscal Year 2020 figures presented here are for the period July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020.

Statement of operations fiscal year 2020

Revenue FY20
Donations $14,370,618
Grants $499,983
Other $41,792
Total Revenue $14,912,393
Expenses FY20
Programs $7,982,293
Fundraising $3,985,023
Admin $1,507,408
Total Expenses $13,474,724
Operating surplus (Deficit) $1,437,669
FY21 Expenses Graphs
Increase in Total Revenues
Increase in Program Investments
Decrease in Fundraising Costs

Important Ratios

Total Expenses as a % of Revenue: 90%

Program Investments as a % Total Revenue: 54%

Fundraising as a % of Total Revenue: 27%

Admin. Costs as a % of Total Revenue: 10%

2020 & Beyond

Resolve and focus

These are challenging times for all of us. The global pandemic meant that 69 planned program missions had to be postponed; 9,614 children waiting for new smiles and dental care didn’t receive it; and 300 children each day were added to the waiting list for surgery.

As the immediate implications of the global lockdown became evident, we swung into action. Many of our local foundations donated their stocks of personal protective supplies to local partner hospitals, regional health authorities, and in some cases, national governments. Access to food became an immediate and pressing issue for many families, so we started distributing food and nutrition supplements to keep infants healthy while they waited for surgery, and their families fed during quarantine.

The pandemic hit the countries where we work very hard and our hearts are broken at the loss and hardship being endured by so many children and their families. Our resolve is strengthened to cautiously resume surgeries in countries where the conditions are safe – following enhanced safety protocols to keep patients, staff and our wonderful volunteers as safe as possible.

Our focus is on doing more, guided by a new Impact Plan, to enhance our local operations, virtual training and education, and addressing the evolving local patient needs stemming from COVID’s impact . This focus means we’ll be ready when the time is right to once again change children’s lives through safe cleft surgery.

The years ahead will have their own challenges, and with you by our side, we know we can successfully tackle them together. You have our deepest respect and thanks for your partnership with us.

Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee
Co-Founders, Operation Smile

Bill and Kathy Magee
Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee, Co-Founders, Operation Smile.

Impact plan and the road ahead

With a large and growing number of patients requiring complete and comprehensive care to treat their cleft conditions, Operation Smile is focused on:

Claire after surgery


Restoring health and livelihoods for better quality of life

Doctors performing surgery


Stronger local surgical and health care delivery

Doctors comparing notes


New ways to improve care to benefit patients


A future where health and dignity are improved through safe surgery.

Please contact us to receive our Roadmap for 2021 & Beyond.

You can download a printable PDF version of our 2020 Impact Report by clicking the button below.