So many of us are blessed with college educations, good health care and skills we nurture to help provide for our families. Americans earn an average annual income of more than $40,000 while many families we meet abroad live on one or two dollars a day, sometimes less. Sharing our resources and abilities with impoverished, deformed children and training local doctors is how we do our part to help others.
About cleft lip/palate deformity
Millions of children in impoverished countries suffer with the cleft lip/palate deformity, which occurs when the upper lip or roof of the mouth does not close during pregnancy. This developmental deformity leads to despair and social isolation for the patient, often leaving no hope. In impoverished countries, the majority of families cannot afford to have this deformity corrected. For a relatively small cost ($275), we can bring hope from despair, changing a life along the way.
Foundation volunteers treat so much more than a cosmetic deformity. They eliminate potential consequences of untreated cleft lip/palate malformation. If not corrected, cleft lip and palate can lead to severe malnourishment in young children. Those who reach adolescence and adulthood often develop significant speech defects and may be ostracized from their villages because others believe they carry bad karma, are inhabited by evil spirits and/or are being punished by something they did in a past life. A 1-2 hour cleft repair surgery gives the child and her family new hope for a full, healthy, and happy life.
In addition to helping today’s patients, we focus on helping those of tomorrow by training local surgeons on techniques so they may perform surgeries needed in their region. Our long-term goal is to teach others to do what we do so that we can move on to other impoverished areas.
Dental disease has been linked to infection, malnutrition, weight loss, cardiovascular disease and an overall reduced quality of life. Often times in developing countries, the concept of dentistry is unknown or absent and these children and adults have a complete lack of dental care, leading to the aforementioned consequences. With continued dental care and education it has been shown that the dental health and education of a studied population can be improved dramatically.
Respect local customs
We feel it’s important to honor the local customs of the regions we visit. Even though we offer free medical care to underprivileged countries, we are their guests. What’s more, we’re committed to training local doctors to be proficient at these surgeries. When they can do it on their own, then we’ve done our job. As ambassadors of the United States, we represent America abroad and aim to do so with dignity.