"If you see a friend without a smile; give one of yours."
~ Proverb quotes
When you give a child a smile, she will take it – make it bigger – and give it right back to you. This reminds me of a time when my daughter and I were day dreaming about travelling to ‘the other side of the world’. I asked her what she would do if she could not speak the language at our destination. Without hesitation, she answered, “Mom, everyone speaks smile!”
Christopher, a student I once served, knows all about growing smiles from scratch. He has a repaired cleft lip and palate. Once he showed me his slight repair scar and explained that his smile had been broken but a doctor put it back together for him. Looking at him, the star that he was, I was grateful he had such a successful experience. If he was born elsewhere, he may have lived with a broken smile for the rest of his life. That is unless Operation Smile found him.
Operation Smile has a mission: To mobilize a world of generous hearts to heal children’s smiles and transform lives across the globe. http://www.operationsmile.org/
There are many initiatives in Operation Smile – one being the International Program. A team of medical professionals from around the world travel to treat children during a two-week period. On a typical International Medical Mission, 300-500 children receive full medical evaluations and 100-150 children are surgically treated. Thanks to the support of donors and volunteers, over 25 International Medical missions are conducted in a year. Ngan’s story caught my eye because it is one of triumph:
In my language, in Vietnamese, my name Thanh Ngan means "star." I was tarnished though, born into a family of three, with a cleft lip and a gaping hole in my palate. For the first three years of my life, I was living in shame and isolation in the small village of Quy Nhon province in southern Vietnam.
Hearing about the Operation Smile team coming to Danang in 2002, my whole family traveled for miles to see if they could help me. Though it was late on screening day, our efforts finally paid off - I was accepted for surgery. Now my star shines brightly and my future is as open to possibility as the heavens.
Cherishing the opportunity to join the community of smile-growers, TinyEYE has contributed to the surgery of a child. A smile tickles the heart – laughter resounds. As Mark Twain once said: “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
All the best to you,
Marnee Brick, MSc
Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Speech Therapy
TinyEYE Therapy Services (Speech Therapy Telepractice)
Growing smiles, mending spirits, engaging children in their lives