Quantcast
Latest Stories

Inquirer Visayas

A journey home for ‘Operation Smile’ on its 30th mission year

By

DR. WILLIAM Magee and his wife, Kathy , Operation Smile International Mission founders, receive a plaque of recognition from Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and his wife, Marilyn, at the thanksgiving dinner at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City on Tuesday night for the Operation Smile volunteers who are into their 19th surgical mission for the cleft palate and lip. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Since she was a little girl, May Klaire Parparan has always wanted to become a nurse. But she lost hope when a teenager rudely told her when she was 7 years old: “How can you become a nurse when nurses are beautiful and you’re different?”

“That was when I realized that I was not like the others. My world fell apart. I lost my dream. There did not seem to be a future for me,” she said.

May Klaire was born with a cleft lip, but she never paid attention to her deformity. She always felt special and loved by her family, until she heard the teenager’s remarks.

At age 5, she underwent surgery but it failed to fix the deformity.

In 1994, surgeons from Operation Smile went to Bacolod  City, 78 kilometers from her hometown in Isabela, Negros Occidental. May Klaire, then 12, was one of the lucky child beneficiaries of the medical mission.

Traces of her deformity were removed, and since then, her life has changed for the better.

“I became more confident. My self-esteem grew. I discovered my self-worth and respected myself more so others would respect me, too,” she said.

Her self-confidence helped her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.

Now 30, May Klaire is a registered nurse working as a volunteer at Ignacio Arroyo Memorial District Hospital in Isabela. She is one of 2,628 patients whose lives have been changed by Operation Smile since it began its work in Negros Occidental in 1988.

Operation Smile provides free surgeries to repair cleft palate, cleft lip and other facial deformities of children in the country. The Negros Occidental mission is being undertaken for nine days in coordination with the Hope Volunteers Foundation.

A total of  150 children had been scheduled to be operated up to Nov. 17 at Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

Among them are 6-year-old twins, Dhesa and Dhea Rodriguez, who are daughters of a truck driver from  Barangay Cabadiangan in Himamaylan City, also in Negros Occidental.

MAY KLAIRE Parparan, a registered nurse, was 12 years old when her cleft lip was repaired by Operation Smile’s surgeons. Carla P. Gomez

In 2009,  Operation Smile operated on the twins’ cleft lips. On Wednesday, they underwent surgery anew, this time for cleft palates.

Edith Villanueva, Hope vice president and overall coordinator of the mission, said 230 patients with deformities from the 305 applicants had been screened. But only 150 could be accommodated, she added.

Operation Smile started in Naga City in Camarines Sur in 1982. Dr. William Magee and his wife, Kathleen, who are from Virginia State in the United States, traveled with a group of volunteers to Naga for what was supposed to be a one-time mission to repair children’s cleft lips and palates.

But the couple noted so many more with deformities who needed help, so their work became the world’s largest volunteer-based medical charity dedicated to providing free cleft surgeries to children in developing countries today.

Operation Smile Philippines Foundation Inc.  was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 18, 1988, as a nonstock, nonprofit organization. It was the very first resource country organization of the Operation Smile International global network.

Some 7,000 volunteers are scattered in 80 countries, staying permanently in 61. A total of 200,000 children have been assisted.

To mark the global celebration of the 30th anniversary of Operation Smile, Robert Manzano, Operation Smile Philippines president and executive director, said a monthlong medical mission would be conducted in nine cities—Koronadal, Naga, Angeles, Silay, Cagayan de Oro, Manila, Dasmariñas, General Santos and Cebu.

Magee acknowledged that when he first came to the Philippines 30 years ago, he did not come solely for humanitarian reasons. He was a young plastic surgeon who wanted to become better at his craft.

In Naga, however, he noticed that so many children needed help and that this had changed his direction and purpose in life. It taught him and those in the team to think with their hearts to make a difference in the lives of others, he said.

“I am 100-percent sure if we had gone to a country other than the Philippines that first year, there would be no Operation Smile,” Magee said.

He pointed out that the warmth, generosity, openness and the beauty of the Filipino people made them want to come back to the Philippines.

To mark the group’s 30th anniversary, Magee said it decided to make “a journey home because the Philippines is the home of Operation Smile.” It was also its way of saying thanks, he added.

“Filipinos have a special gift of warmth, hospitality and openness that tells people— come back and work side by side with us,” he said.

Magee’s wife, Kathleen, a pediatric nurse, said the Philippines gave the Operation Smile volunteers the opportunity to make what was impossible for many possible in order to have new lives.

But there is still a huge backlog of patients. Oral cleft is among the top 12 congenital defects in the country.

Data gathered by Operation Smile showed that one in every 500 or about 4,000 Filipinos are born every year with a harelip, a cleft palate, or both.

At least 10 percent of the cleft children, or 400, die before reaching their first birthday and 12 percent, or 480, do not live past the age of five.

“We want to reach these unfortunate children so we can treat them at an early age,” Manzano said.

Filipinos can help the children  by donating P30. “If every Filipino donated P30 to change the lives of children with a deformity in the country, we can stir a revolution,” Magee said.

Others have also started Christmas fundraising drives, Manzano said.

To donate to Operation Smile, one can go to its website at http://philippines.operationsmile.org/how-to-help/donate/ for details, or to send P30, one can key in SMILE to 4483 through Smart and Sun networks.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Charity , Health , Operation Smile




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  5. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  6. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  7. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  10. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  1. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  2. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
Advertisement

News

  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Corporate bonds sweeteners
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement