Like many sites, we use small files called cookies to improve your experience. Most of these are optional, and if you’d like more information you can find it by selecting ‘manage preferences’, or by visiting our Cookies Policy page. Once you’ve made a selection, you can change your mind by selecting Cookie Preferences in the footer.
For 38 years, Andrea lived with an unrepaired cleft lip. But as she waited during patient screening at Operation Smile Peru’s medica programme in Lima, Peru – surrounded by her family and hundreds of people who were also in need of care – Andrea wasn’t thinking about herself.
Holding their newborn baby for the first time is often one of the most joyous moments a parent can experience. But for Ani and her husband, Roberto, seeing their son, Alex, brought feelings of fear and despair.
As soon as Iris gets off the bus and, together with her mother, moves through the crowds of people at a bus station in Managua, Nicaragua, she hides.
Walking behind her mother, she holds one hand on her mother’s shoulder and the other covers her mouth. Her eyes are locked on her mother’s back, as if she doesn’t want to meet the eyes of any of the strangers staring at her.
Domingos has an indomitable spirit with a physique to match: calloused hands, muscled arms and shoulders that look like they could carry the weight of the world.
In a sense, they have. Domingos carried the weight of living with an untreated cleft lip for 48 years.
Find out how our surgical programmes are strengthening local health systems and training the next generation of medical leaders.
Training anaesthetists in Rwanda
Anaesthesia is vital to the delivery of safe surgery, but there is a dramatic shortage of trained anaesthetists in Rwanda. In this densely popualated country, 11.9 million people are served by just 15 anaesthetists and anaesthesiologists.
Dr Paulin Banguti is working to fill this void – he’s director of the post-graduate anaesthesia programme at the University of Rwanda. During the March 2016 Operation Smile surgical training rotation at Rwinkwavu District Hospital, he led a group of anaesthesia residents to observe and learn from volunteer anaesthesiologists from around the world.
To enable Operation Smile to serve and treat more people living with cleft conditions, we focus on increasing the surgical capacity of low-and middle-income countries like Malawi so that cleft care for local people can continue, even after a surgical programme ends.
Operation Smile Malawi has worked to encourage and educate local surgeons, doctors and nurses, and now has nearly 50 percent of its medical volunteers from Malawi. Surgical training rotations train and empower local surgeons to help their own communities and strengthen health systems for the future.