Prior to the month of November, the Operation Smile club has been preparing feverishly to undertake another tour and trip of Operation Smile Ghana mission work. This was a build up to a previous trip taken last April. Two trips were taken: The first (Nov 8) was to visit the Koforidua Regional hospital and second (Nov 11) was the Cultural center where the patients and families resided.About 15 student members and 3 teachers took part.Below are some student reflections:Upon arrival we found that they had a goal of 150 patients and the surgeons consulted 300. The surgeons had 30 surgeries a day. The people they turned down however did get some help in understanding how they could get surgery next time as well as how to live better with cleft pallet.The best and most sustainable part of the project is the amazing work local doctors and nurses do and the knowledge they receive.
Operation smile trains staff to be able to do surgeries and teaches people first hand or through supporting people who would like to teach such things to locals. This is extremely important to kill the horrible stigma surrounding cleft and to be able to operate here at home. The final thing we saw were the treatment of cleft lip patients and their family. Many mothers of patients supported their small and big children through cleft: by hiding them from society, moving away or even leaving to the operation without permission from family members. The women have gone as far as working behind their husbands[?] backs to feed the children that their husbands do not deem worth to care for. Martina Marino (Grade 10)I found it heart-breaking to hear about the distance some had been forced to put between themselves and their families in order to care for their children who were seen as demons by others.
At the same time, it was heart-warming to experience their level of support amongst each other and the gratitude they felt towards Operation Smile for helping them. While we initially had to address them and request that they share their stories, they later asked us to simply listen as they freely and openly discussed their traumatic experiences and were not shy to answer questions. Patients and relatives alike were very brave people who have defied cultural norms and I found their drive and determination inspiring. Overall, I feel that Operation Smile is an amazing organisation that has helped hundreds of people in Ghana and our trip for Koforidua was an eye-opening experience for me within what I feel is a very sustainable program.
Rebekka Udsholt (Grade 10)Operation Smile was an unforgettable experience ! Being able to interact with the patients, and hear their touching stories was truly amazing.Some of the things these people went through because of this stigma placed on them, are unbelievable and saddening. They were made to feel alienated from their communities and were constantly pushed away. The strength and determination they all showed throughout their struggles is very inspirational, and shows that no matter your current situation some day things could turn around.It is just beautiful to see how much joy Operation Smile has been able to bring to their lives. I will never forget all the smiles on their faces and their welcoming hugs.Darlene Sam (Grade 11)