U.S.-based Children’s Medical Charity Mobilizes Global Partners Aiding Operation Smile’s Philippine Foundation Post-Typhoon

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Despite Destruction, Operation Smile Medical Volunteers Depart for the Philippines in Advance of Next Week’s Pre-planned Surgical Mission

In 1982, Operation Smile Co-Founders Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee along with a team of medical volunteers arrived in Naga City, Philippines — the site of the first surgical mission.

“Survivors don't yet have luxury of grieving privately because they're focused solely on just surviving day to day without power, light, transport or communication,” said Bobby Manzano, Executive Director of Operation Smile Philippines.

Operation Smile was born in the Philippines with its very first medical mission in Naga City, Camarines Sur in 1982.

“We arrived in the Philippines for a one-time surgical mission to treat children born with facial deformities - and although we helped many children, we were forced to turn away the majority of those who sought care,” said Operation Smile Co-Founders Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee. “We said to ourselves, ‘Why don’t we get some friends and go back and take care of those kids?’” – And so Operation Smile was born in their hearts and built in Norfolk, Virginia where three decades later it has grown to be the largest volunteer-based surgical cleft organization in the world with a presence in more than 60 counties.

Now in-country volunteer medical teams from Operation Smile Philippines are offering up their medical expertise and partnering with the Philippine Department of Health to field triage the hundreds of thousands of survivors left wounded by Typhoon Haiyan and without shelter.

“Survivors don't yet have luxury of grieving privately because they're focused solely on just surviving day to day without power, light, transport or communication,” said Bobby Manzano, Executive Director of Operation Smile Philippines. “The deceased lay unburied while survivors scavenge for food and drinking water. At night, they huddle in makeshift shelters with no roofs over their heads.”

When the Magee’s began receiving these devastating first-hand accounts of the typhoons destruction from their Operation Smile Filipino “family” they immediately mobilized to raise money worldwide. In just 48 hours, Operation Smile raised more than $105,000 for relief aid in the Philippines and those efforts are ongoing. The money is already being used to purchase food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, just 600 miles north of the some of the hardest hit areas, medical volunteer teams from the U.S. and the Philippines are gearing up to begin a cleft mission in Angeles City, Pampanga to provide free surgery to children suffering with cleft lip and cleft palate.

“The families of the children who suffer with life-threatening facial deformities are also experiencing tragedy, just in a different form,” said Dr. Magee. “Despite the widespread devastation in the Philippines, we are still able to save lives and heal smiles - it’s a very powerful feeling to know our medical teams will offer a glimmer of light amidst some of this country’s darkest days.”

About Operation Smile Philippines (http://www.operationsmile.org.ph)
Operation Smile Philippines Foundation, Inc., (OSP) the first in-country organization of the Operation Smile International, Inc. (OSI), is a non-stock, non-profit organization founded in 1982 that aims primarily, in support of OSI, to provide free life-changing reconstructive surgeries to children born with facial deformities.

About Operation Smile (http://www.operationsmile.org)
Operation Smile, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is an international children’s medical charity with a presence in more than 60 countries, whose network of 5,400 medical volunteers from 80 countries is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children. Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 3.8 million healthcare evaluations and conducted over 200,000 free surgical procedures to children and young adults born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. To build long-term self-sufficiency in developing countries, Operation Smile trains doctors and local medical professionals in its partner countries so they are empowered to treat their own local communities, donates medical equipment and supplies, and provides year-round medical treatment through Comprehensive Care and Training and Treatment Centers.

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Sabrina Zimring
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