Alliance for Smiles Heads to Myanmar
We are excited to announce that for the first time Alliance for Smiles will complete a mission in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (also called Burma). AfS Board member and the mission director for this mission, Tina Hollcroft, went on a site visit and sent us back this report.
After completing our 3rd successful mission to Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wilber Breseman and I ventured to Burma, or as it is also called, Myanmar. We flew into Yangon and then the next morning we took a flight to Bagan.
I knew immediately that Alliance for Smiles needed to have a presence in this country. Within 24 hours of landing in Burma we saw several children with clefts. The first child was in the Bagan region – obviously in need of a revision. Another child was in the Inle Lake area – her mother trades at a Pagoda there. Burmese Children
Upon my return to Yangon I sent an email to the US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena and Chargé d’affaires Jon Danilowicz asking for an introduction to their counterparts at the US Embassy in Burma. Amazingly, within 3 to 4 hours I received a response from Jon with contact information for his counterpart Virginia Baily, who then led me to the Medical Attaché for the US Embassy, Jeffrey Boyette. I knew good things were about to happen.
I called Jeff from the hotel lobby and explained ALL the wonderful work Alliance for Smiles has completed in China, The Philippines, and our missions to Africa and Bangladesh. I explained to him our successful treatment centers operating in China and how excited we would be to have an opportunity to work in Burma. Jeff and I conversed for several months and FINALLY an email arrived with the name of a hospital that would be willing to host our delegation. My heart filled with joy and my eyes with tears.
The email conversations proceeded with Lawrence at Victoria Hospital in Yangon and in June our site visit proved to be successful – with a mission planned for March 2014. The little girl in the picture to the right? Jeff is going to be visiting this region in October and has assured me that if this child’s mother is still trading at the pagoda he will inform her of our mission in March, and provide whatever resources are needed to transport them to Yangon for surgery. Thank you to the US Embassy in Burma and thank you to Jon Danilowicz, Ambassador Mozena, Lawrence and the staff at Victoria Hospital.
If you wish to donate to support our first mission to Myanmar, please Donate or call 415-647-4481 to learn how you can help.
In Memory of Burton Berry
It is with sadness and regret that Alliance for Smiles announces the passing of Board member Burt Berry. Burt was one of the co-founders of Alliance for Smiles, and at the January 2013 Gala he was the first time recipient of the John Uth Memorial Award for Significant Financial Support. Because of Burt’s generosity over the years, literally hundreds of children have received surgery.
The work of Alliance for Smiles is totally dependent on contributions and Burt made dreams become reality. We would not be where we are today without his support. Alliance for Smiles owes a huge debt of gratitude to him and his wife Joan. He will be missed not only for his fiscal support but also his warmth and great sense of humor. He has definitely left a legacy in the children whose lives he helped change.
Trip Report: Harbin, China
In July AfS once again returned to the northern Chinese city of Harbin to complete a medical mission. Harbin has been the location of three previous medical missions as well as a Treatment Center. During this two-week mission, 96 surgeries were performed on 75 patients, including 45 lip surgeries, 22 palate surgeries, and 29 other procedures. In addition, 300 dental procedures were performed, which included teeth cleaning and extractions for the cleft patients and their families.
We would like to thank Shen Wei USA Inc, Medline, The China Population and Welfare Foundation, The Chinese Consulate of San Francisco, The Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army Hospital #211, The Heilongjiang Provincial Family Planning Association, Mission Director Dr. Quentin Li, VP for China Affairs Dr. Colin Wong, and everyone who donated or volunteered for this mission.
In our next newsletter, we will report on our missions to Zunyi and Guiyang, China. These missions are being supported by a generous donation from Care-Action Macau.
Changes to the AfS Board of Directors
On June 8th, 2013, Alliance for Smiles voted to approve three new members of the Board of Directors: Zainul Abedin, Dr. Chih-Chen Fang, and John O’Connor. We are excited to expand our Board with individuals from very different backgrounds and experiences.
Zainul Abedin is a consultant at the International Rice Research Institute, and is a past President of the Rotary Club of Gulshan Lake City, Bangladesh. Zainul has previously helped Alliance for Smiles coordinate missions to Dhaka, Bangladesh and has been instrumental in the success of those missions.
John O’Connor is a San Francisco attorney who lists the Warriors among his clients and is a Watergate buff who had his article “I’m the Guy They Called Deep Throat” published in Vanity Fair Magazine. He is also a basketball aficionado and is very excited about helping AfS serve more children.
Our final new Board member is Dr. Chih-Chen Fang, who has been very involved in Alliance for Smiles on all fronts, including volunteering on missions and in the office, as well as fundraising. A profile of Dr. Fang can be found below.
We would also like to announce the retirement of Dr. Thomas Mack from the Board of Directors. Dr. Mack has been with the Board since the early days of AfS, and has not only been a great financial supporter, has volunteered on thirteen medical missions. We thank Dr. Mack for his years of service on the Board.
Mark Your Calendar!
Winter Holiday Party – Dec 5, 2013
In December AfS will host an open house Holiday party! This complimentary evening is open to all our supporters and friends. Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served. We will also have a chance for you to get some gift shopping done early, with the proceeds benefiting Alliance for Smiles! The open house will be held on December 5th, 2013, from 5pm to 8pm, at the Alliance for Smiles office at 2565 Third Street, Suite 237, in San Francisco. Bring your friends and family and come celebrate all we have accomplished this year!
Volunteer Appreciation Gala – Feb 22, 2014
In 2014 Alliance for Smiles will once again hold the annual Volunteer Appreciation Gala at the W Hotel. The date is set for February 22nd, 2014. If you would like to receive a hard copy invitation to the Gala, or would like to donate an item for the live or silent auction, please email email@example.com. Tables of 10 seats purchased before December 31st, 2013 are $1300; individual tickets are $150, individual sponsorship tickets are $250. If you would like to sponsor a table, please contact us to discuss your options. Hope to see you there!
On February 23rd we will hold our annual Volunteer Training. We will be training mission volunteers for various medical and nonmedical positions, as well as providing Continuing Education Credits for nurses. We will host an orientation on Alliance for Smiles and fundraising strategies, then meet in smaller breakout groups, where you can receive training for the position of your choice. For more information, please contact the office at 415-647-4481.
AfS at Rotary International Convention
Alliance for Smiles once again had a presence at the Rotary International Convention, this year held in Lisbon, Portugal. President and CEO Anita Stangl was supported by Board members Barbara Fisher and Tina Hollcroft, as well as frequent AfS volunteer Wilber Breseman. The booth served to not only inform Rotary members about the purpose and mission of Alliance for Smiles, but also to expand our audience for email blasts and other communications.