It is a tradition, at the end of a medical mission, to gather together the “team” – that group of extraordinary people who came together to deliver new smiles to children with cleft conditions – and take their photo. Whatever the team size, location, or type of mission, the resulting photo captures what’s essential to Operation Smile – the vital commitment and contribution of our volunteers to the work we do and people we heal.
(Operation Smile Mission Team, Ho, Ghana. November 2015. Photo- Margherita Mirabella)
This week, during National Volunteer Week, we’re celebrating each and every one of you – our amazing medical and community volunteers who are so integral to every aspect of our work. THANK YOU for your dedication, passion and commitment to helping the children we serve, the families and communities made stronger, and the positive impact you make possible in the lives of so many people around the world.
Every volunteer gives freely of their time and talents to changing the lives of our patients and their families. We see it on every mission – people coming together with a common purpose and selfless motivation. They all want the same thing – to contribute their special gifts to make children with cleft conditions smile.
(Canadian volunteer Vanessa Espinoza (left) with local volunteers from Paraguay, on a mission in Monterrey, Mexico, June 2019)
Over last year, 75 Canadian volunteers have served on our medical missions in countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Their medical training, expertise and dedication shows up in the long hours spent screening patients, processing medical records, conducting surgery, tending to families, and providing care to every patient – before, during and after surgery.
As the world deals with COVID-19, our medical volunteers are now on the front lines treating patients and supporting their local communities in dealing with the pandemic. For that we are extraordinarily grateful.
(Nancy Rojas, volunteer Orthodontist in Bogotá, Colombia, with a young patient)
In many countries where we work, the majority of care is provided by local volunteers.
Nancy Rojas is one of them. An orthodontist by profession, Nancy has been volunteering with us for more than 20 years. Every Tuesday and Wednesday at Operation Smile’s care centre in Bogotá, Colombia, Nancy and her team of talented volunteers provides free orthodontia care to our patients. Cleft conditions, especially cleft palate, often affects the alignment of teeth and the jaw. Nancy brings her love and expertise to our patients to ensure their new smiles last a lifetime.
When it comes to volunteering, hundreds of students and educators across Canada are leading by example with their participation in Operation Smile’s student programs. From the “Glimpse Team”, a Grade 3 class whose passion, energy and creativity knows no bounds, to college and university students across the country sharing the story of our work with their peers, student volunteers are creative and innovative when it comes to helping deliver smiles…and hope.
We’re proud of the leadership student volunteers demonstrated at Western University when they developed the first-ever U-Lead Symposium at Western University in March 2020.
Everyone can help deliver a new smile to a child. And every day, Canadians are volunteering and getting involved with us. From corporate employee groups to rotary clubs to neighbours next door, people are raising awareness and funds to help Operation Smile deliver new smiles and ongoing care to children around the world. That makes us smile with heartfelt gratitude.
(Peggy Sherwood (left), volunteer nurse with Darcy Huda, a Johnson & Johnson employee and Medical Records volunteer, in Koforidua, Ghana, November 2019.)
TO ALL OUR VOLUNTEERS – YOU HAVE OUR THANKS EACH AND EVERY DAY. THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.