Better lives because of smiles PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 January 2012 15:18

When the clock ticked for the start of 2012, I was in a quandary what would my first Pep Talk column would be.  Many wonderful inspirational stories happened in 2011 that I like to feature. But it was the January 2 email of Dr. Joseph Llenado about the Operation Smile Zamboanga last December 13-16 at Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) that prompted me to make this my first story for 2012.

It brought smile in my face and I hope it will also to Pep Talk readers knowing how the Operation Smile humanitarian endeavor have changed lives of children born with facial deformities. Children with cleft lip or cleft palate are faced with challenges many of us cannot ever imagine. Many have difficulty eating, speaking or even smiling and in some parts of the world, they are hidden away, kept from socializing, attending school or playing an active role in their community. In the Philippines, they are teased ngo-ngo.

Unfortunate too in many cases, their parents can't afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a normal life. Do you that every three minutes a child is born with a cleft? We should be thankful that we are not part of this dreadful statistic.

But since 1982, Operation Smile — through the help of dedicated medical volunteers — has provided more than 2 million patient evaluations and over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. It is an international children's medical charity that heals children's smiles in over 60 countries.

As a children’s charity, it measure itself of the joy they see on all of the faces they help. But more than a charity and as an NGO, it has mobilized a force of medical professionals and caring hearts who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities for free! As one of the most prominent children’s charities in the world, they are able to bring hope for a better future.

Thanks to the generosity and spirit of volunteerism shown by Operation Smile, Tzu Chi Foundation, JSOTF, AFP, Rotary Club of Zamboanga City, and Zamboanga City Medical Center, several local children with cleft palates can now fully smile in 2012 and beyond!

Through the leadership of Sir Edward Artis, Operation Smiles Zamboanga pushed through with Dr. Owen Loh, heading the plastic surgical team. Members of the surgical team included Col. Jose Acosta, MD., and Dr. Alex Floro, with anesthesiologist Dr. Xenia David and Dr. Enrique da Roza. OR nursing team was composed of Ms. Anabelle Baldelomar, Lt. Col. Fe Ea, RN (ret), and Ms. Klea Cordero, RN.   Tzu Chi Great Love Center under Dr. Anton Lim coordinated with ZCMC Director Dr. Romeo Ong and Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P) CMO unit headed by Maj. J. Smith and Capt. J. Tevedos  to make the operations successful . The Operation Smile takes only less than an hour (45 minutes) to be performed. Thanks to them these children can now smile.

Visit  and find out how you can bring more smiles to  Operation Smile.

"When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them." (Job 29:24)