Many of my friends have heard of my involvement with Operation Smile but are unsure about what we really do. Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that performs safe, effective cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, and delivers postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children in low and middle income countries.
The organization has mobilized teams that travel around to help with treatment and surgeries, and they are also establishing year-round treatment centers to provide a more sustainable medical care in developing countries. In university clubs like mine, we focus on raising fund, raising awareness and giving back to the community. Students who have been members for more than a year can also participate in their student programs, and join the organization for mission trips in the future.
Facts about Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate that you should know:
- Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft.
- A child with a cleft has twice the odds of dying before their first birthday.
- Children with cleft conditions who survive may have difficulty eating, speaking, hearing or breathing properly.
- In some places, they are shunned and rejected.
- Although the cost for a surgery is only about CAD$240 through Operation Smile, in too many cases, parents from developing countries can’t afford the surgeries they need to live a productive life.
I got involved with the UBC Chapter of the organization 2 years ago when I first heard about it from my friend JD, who was then the treasurer of the club. I came across their booth in my residence and decided to check them out when I got home. I ended up crying watching their video on YouTube, and decided to be a part of it. There were just so many things that I didn’t know about these children with cleft lips and cleft palates, and I wanted to make a difference for it.
Long story short, I was rather active as a member and became the President after a year. When I got the position, I swore to myself that I am going to make a huge difference while I have the chance. And last weekend, I think we sorta did it. We hosted our first ever large-scale fundraising event, a Benefit Concert at Koerner’s Pub on UBC Campus.
We approached some really talented singers/musicians from UBC and gathered all of them out for a chill night of drinks and music at one of our campus pubs, with a DJ spinning the night off. All proceeds from the tickets sold and drinks special were considered donations to Operation Smile.
The process of organizing the event, from getting the performers to sorting the venue out for a concert, was not an easy one. We were really stressed throughout the process, but when close to 200 people turned up that night, we were so grateful and excited. Naheed, our amazing PR Director, and I decided to sing a duet of Rihanna’s We Found Love to thank our audience (check first picture above) and it went well too! 🙂
I was a fan of hers since a long time ago and I took this opportunity to message her on her Facebook page as a fan request, and guess what? She said yes! I’m so glad to finally meet her and hear her live. She’s so sweet I felt like melting when I heard her talk and sing.
The event was a success, we managed to raise CAD$1887, which is equivalent to 7 surgeries for the kids (almost 8 actually!). This amount was way more that what we targeted and not only that, we’d also raised more awareness about our club and what we actually do. People were talking about our event on the Monday after that weekend, how cool is that?!
I am just really grateful for all of the people who came to support, especially my friends who bought tickets even when they knew it’s not their kinda thing, people who shared about my event when they couldn’t make it, members who helped out and took the extra steps to ask for donations etc. It always feels good to know that there are still so many amazing people out there, loving and caring for one another.
If you are interested to know more about the organization or about cleft lips and cleft palates, you can visit Operation Smile’s website here. They have every detail you want to know. And if you have another 2 minutes to spare after reading this post, take a look at this video. This is the video that made me cry and decided that I want to be a part of the organization.
Till then. Thank you so much for taking your time to read this post. I hope I’ve managed to raise more awareness about the cause and help the kids in every other ways. Also, I want you to know that, if you really care for something and want to make a difference for that cause, you can do it too.