Guatemala, Philippines, Honduras, Panama, Peru & Republic of Congo!
We are also proud that with YOUR help we have donated over $33 Million in medical services over 15 years of work.
And yet, this is just the tip of the (cleft) iceberg. Many tens of thousands of children around the world still await services. During this wait many children will experience being bullied, abused, and in a few cases, even killed. Time is of the essence. Nobody yet has the complete answer to what causes cleft, so there is no in-vitro treatment to prevent new cleft births.
What does this mean for AfS?
We have to continue to work hard to travel the globe and help those without the resources to help themselves. We also train local medical professionals and always assess the area for establishing a potential treatment center to provide on-going comprehensive care. Our ultimate goal is to transfer knowledge so that our services are no longer needed.
We must continue to expand to reach more in need. Our footprint in 2019 grew to three new locations: Retalhuleu, Guatemala; Aswan, Egypt; and Manila, Philippines! For 2020, we are planning trips to even more new locations: Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Panama City, Panama; Iquitos, Peru; and Republic of Congo.
Our 7,000th Child!
Zien, age 3 months, the youngest son of Sabri and Sabra, was born in the small Egyptian city of Edfu. Mom is an English teacher at the city school and Dad works at the local paper factory. Even though Zien was born with a very severe cleft lip and palate, at his birth his parents immediately gave thanks that the problem was not something that required intensive care. But still they knew that they would never be able to afford the surgery to repair Zien’s cleft.
Then Sabra learned about Alliance for Smiles by doing an internet search at her school and she saw that the team was coming to Aswan, Egypt to provide free surgeries! So three months after Zien was born, the family traveled several hours by bus to Aswan hoping for the best. Luckily Zien was approved for surgery, and the results were beautiful! (see below)
Mom and Dad have basic wishes for their son: they want him to be happy and healthy, and to live a full life; and of course to never be bullied for his cleft. Thanks to the care they received in Aswan, they are now hopeful for their son’s future. They are so excited to return to their family, friends and neighbors, and they know everyone will be happy to see Zien! Sabri and Sabra wish to thank everyone involved for providing care to their son Zien.
A Milestone At Our Nigeria Treatment Center
Our relationship at LASUTH (Lagos State University Teaching Hospital) began over 2 years ago during a surgical mission to Lagos, Nigeria. We chose this hospital as one of our treatment center locations due to their keen interest in and dedication to long-term multi-disciplinary cleft care.
Earlier this year, thanks to a generous grant from HEDCO Foundation, we were pleased to donate a Panorex 3D X-Ray machine to LASUTH to further their capabilities. We were so touched by the below letter of thanks that they sent to Dr. Karin Vargervik, the AfS treatment center director:
As you know, the X-Ray machine was officially handed over to us by the Rotary Club on Thursday. We are all set to use the machine for our patients. On behalf of the entire Child Dental Health department at LASUTH, I express my profound gratitude to Alliance for Smiles, and especially to you Karin, for seeing this through till the end. My words are unable to convey the depth of my emotions. This will definitely go a long way towards our complete care for patients with cleft lip and palate.
– Warm regards, Yemi
We look forward to a continuous partnership with LASUTH and to developing more treatment centers across the globe!
Sagaing, Myanmar – March 2019
In Sagaing our team fell in love with seven-year old AwYa and his fascinating family. AwYa was the first surgical patient of this mission. Prior to his scheduled surgery whenever we saw AwYa in the ward, his dad was holding him closely or playing with him. While talking to the parents, we found out that dad is actually the stepdad. This is the family story:
AwYa’s mom is 34 years old and has five children; AwYa is the youngest. About the time that AwYa was born, his dad was killed in a military battle. AwYa’s mom met and married a young man who is nine years younger than she. He adores her and thinks she looks like a movie star, and he says she has the kindest heart of anyone he has ever met.
But it was the special bond between AwYa and his stepdad that truly struck us all with delight. The team was also smiling at the results of the successful surgery and at the beautiful family we got to know in such a special way.
Retalhuleu, Guatemala, September 2019
Argelia Gregorio came to see us for a small lipoma (benign growth) near her collarbone. The surgery took far less than an hour and she was good to go, in fact elated! What we later learned was that she had been saving for this surgery for years and had not yet collected enough money to cover the costs.
After we helped her, she came to us with the money she had saved and insisted we accept it and use it to help someone else. She would not take no for an answer. In the end we accepted her savings of $34. We were all touched by her generosity and gratitude, which moved many to tears.
15th Anniversary Night of Smiles Gala
On April 6, 2019 we celebrated our 15th anniversary in style at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. The evening kicked off with a colorful and diverse offering of silent auction items which had everyone buzzing.
Guests enthusiastically bid on both silent and live auction items, bringing in more funds than ever before. We were treated to a performance of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” by the San Francisco Boys Choir which captivated our guests as they sang acapella.
During the first class dinner, we were happy to acknowledge our Gala Co-Chair Mary Liu and our awardees Dr. Chih-Ching Fang, Becky Steed RN and Dr. Karin Vargervick for their tremendous dedication to Alliance for Smiles.
As a surprise, guests were treated to a professional salsa performance which was followed by a quick salsa class and some real salsa dancing! The night was loads of fun for everyone.
Plan to be with us in 2020 on May 2 as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo – SAVE THE DATE!
Dining for Smiles Fundraiser at Lake Oconee in Georgia, May 2019
This annual event is attended by over 120 people. Anita Stangl was in attendance to support the event.
Auction items from all over the world were available for bid, and a special table and picture were donated by members of local Rotary Clubs for auction. The event exceeded our expectations!
Thanks so much Tina for your dedication and support for AfS!