THE all Volunteer US and Canadian Surgical team, OPERATION OF HOPE aims to conduct not less than 90 free facial reconstructive surgerie
By Michael Gwarisa
The may visit also marks the organsation’s 26th surgical mission to Zimbabwe. Since 2006, they have performed more than 5,000 free cleft surgeries for children and adults in Zimbabwe, alone. This year more than 90 children and adults are targeted for a free facial reconstructive surgery at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo on May 2, 2019, Mpilo Hospital Sunday, May 10th Bulawayo and Friday May 22 at Karanda Mission Hospital, Mt Darwin, Zimbabwe.
The team of Board certified reconstructive surgeons and 18 other volunteers, support the confidence and social success of children around the world.
Having an attractive smile is crucial not only for self-esteem but also for the ability to interact effectively in modern society, where smiling is one of the most basic interactions between people.
“Some of these children don’t have a smile at all. Often, they cover their mouths and are hidden from school or church because of this relatively easy to fix problem, being a cleft lip or cleft palate,” says President of Operation of Hope, Jennifer Mora Trubenbach,
Operation of Hope depends on the kindness of private citizens, sponsors and the services of medical volunteers as all surgeries are free of charge to patients and their families.
“We are often asked as Americans, are we independently wealthy to do this work. No, Jennifer smiles. Most of the volunteers love to come to Zimbabwe for the very reason they first got into medicine – to help as many people as they can because they love doing so. Several of our volunteers are retired and instead of playing golf they choose to do these missions. Most of the nurses raise their funds by fundraising their own airfare by sharing the excitement of this trip with family and friends.
Operation of Hope’s funding comes from just ordinary people with big hearts and who truly understand what it would be like, if their own child needed his surgery and didn’t have the financial means. And, she adds, we love the beautiful people of Zimbabwe and their incredible spirit.
Schweppes Zimbabwe was most helpful in providing juice and water for the patients, as well as, thanking the team with a celebration team dinner.
“It’s more than water and juice, said Jennifer “If babies are hydrated before surgery it’s much more difficult to put in an IV, and after surgery the water and juice is so instrumental in rehydrating the patient so they can recover faster. “We are so thankful to Schweppes for truly understanding our mission and helping us take care of these kids as safely as we can,” she added. EcoNet has also been supportive in helping us get the word out to prospective patients, especially those on the rural areas.
The Ministry of Health waived the Medical and Nursing Council fees for the team, saving the volunteer team thousands of dollars in registration fees. We are hoping they will extend this kindness on this upcoming mission.
This year’s team represents volunteers from India Canada, California, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and Massachusetts. Emirates Airlines in partnership with the Emirates Foundation was also instrumental in helping with the volunteer’s airfare.
In the US, this surgery costs $35K -$80K and the Operation of Hope team raises money all year to offer these surgeries for free to Zimbabweans. Not only are cleft sufferers given the changes they need to have a chance in society, but they also receive these improvements from qualified medical professionals, regardless of their ability to pay.