By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
This column has covered stories of Operation Smile before, most readers are aware what they do. They transform lives. They turn a tragedy of birth into a step for the future. ‘Instituto Jalisciense de Cirugia Reconstructiva’’ (IJCR), Guadalajara, is a teaching hospital specializing in plastic surgery. Primarily Cleft Palette, or what is commonly called “hair lip”.
‘Operation Smile Mexico’ (OSM), its Director Benjamin Mijangos Borja, made a deal with the hospital to provide children and young adults up to the age of 18 years, free surgery every Monday morning...which allows 4 to 6 operations each Monday, depending on the complexities involved.
‘Operation Smile’ pays the hospital 5,000 pesos each Monday to cover the cost of consumables, like anesthetic, suture kits, bandages, disposable scrubs etc. The use of the facilities is free, and the staff are all volunteers. Doctors travel from all over the world to volunteer their time and talent to this humanitarian act, so stated one of the founders, Ruben Pettersson.
This writer has seen them at work; it is nothing short of a miracle the change that comes to a child’s face...it is instant. The delicate reconstructive work on tiny little faces would move the hardest heart.
The children stay in the care of Operation Smile until they are 18. Think about it. 5,000 pesos per day, that is approximately 833 pesos per child, and at today’s rate around 42 dollars to change the life of a child.
We do not see too many children on the street with this terrible affliction, because they are generally hidden, and when they are school age they suffer such humiliation from other children, many of them do not go to school. No person should have to go through that type of living hell.
To be accepted by OSM, some families travel for days on the bus, and on the interview days the hospital’s waiting area is full to capacity with children hoping to be accepted. The physical test they go through is rigorous, as the health of the child before operations like this, has to be good...no infections of any kind, some are turned away and given medications they require to bring their health up to standard for another day. A heart breaking decision the Doctors have to make. Who will stay for a miracle, and who must wait.
Tepehua’s baby Karla was one of the lucky ones, but Karla hasn’t continued with the next step yet, which is closing the hole in the palette, because of bronchial infections. Hopefully 2017 will be better for her.
May 2017 bring peace to the world.
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING
Column: Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.