Winter 2013 Newsletter

Winter 2013 Newsletter

A Message from the Chairman of the Board

We have a great deal to celebrate at Alliance for Smiles as the calendar year draws to a close. During our September 2013 mission to Zunyi, China in the Guizhou Province we provided life changing surgery for dozens of children, including our 4000th patient, 10 month old Huo Ha Feng! We have had very successful missions to a number of locations in that province with the goal of dealing with the backlog of untreated cases, establishing several Treatment Centers, and then moving to another province to create a similar model. Education, training and empowerment of local medical providers are core to our efforts.

We are very proud of our work outside of China as well. In March we returned to Bangladesh for the third time. In September a medical team revisited Tanzania funded by a Vocational Training Team grant from Rotary International. The goal of the mission was once again education and training.

We could not achieve all that we have without a huge bank of volunteers. Not only do our volunteers staff the missions, but certain individuals have stepped up to the plate to accept huge assignments—often giving between 30 and 40 hours per week. I want to give a big THANK YOU to all of you.

However, as wonderful as all of our volunteers are, we still need to raise funds to support both direct and indirect costs of running a successful organization.

So as the year draws to an end, I am asking you to look into your hearts to see if you can make a donation. We are now on the path towards treating our 5000th child and setting up new Treatment Centers. We cannot do it without your help.

My best wishes to all of you for a wonderful holiday season.
With great thanks for all your support,

Dr. Karl Wustrack MD, Chairman of the Board of Directors

The Year In Review

During the 2012 Fiscal Year, Alliance for Smiles completed seven missions, including five to China, one to Tanzania and one to Bangladesh. We completed a total of 533 surgeries on 451 patients. Over 100 medical and nonmedical persons volunteered two weeks of their valuable time to make these missions a reality; we could not have done it without them. And our Treatment Center Team, under the direction of Dr. Karin Vargervik, was once again in action in both Zunyi and Guiyang, China.

While some of these 533 surgeries were revisions of a previous surgery, most were primary cases, meaning these children received the first cleft surgery of their lives. The ridicule and social isolation that these 451 children previously experienced is now gone, and they are on their way to becoming happy, successful adults.

In the next year, we hope to meet and exceed these numbers as we continue with our missions. You can help us reach this goal. Whether you donate funds, medical supplies, or your time and expertise, or just tell a friend about us, we need you.
Visit to find out how you can help!

Trip Report: Guizhou Province, China

The second half of the year has been a busy one for us. In August, we held our first mission to the city of Guiyang, and returned once again to Zunyi, both in the Guizhou Province of China. In Guiyang, the team performed 82 surgeries on 69 patients; in Zunyi, they did 118 surgeries on 91 patients. This was AfS’ third mission to Zunyi, and we have just signed an agreement to make the Zunyi site our newest Treatment Center; this will allow us to address the many untreated cleft cases in this province.

We would like to thank Care-Action Macau and The Bank of China, Macau Branch,who generously sponsored these missions. Without their support, these trips would not have taken place. In addition, Dr. Colin Wong continues his amazing role in arranging all of the China missions. We would also like to thank our mission directors Quentin Li and Roberto Giannicola; all mission volunteers; and everyone who donated in support of these trips.

Trip Report: Singida, Tanzania

In September, Alliance for Smiles once again returned to the Singida Town Hospital in Singida, Tanzania. The team was able to complete 32 surgeries on 27 children.

One of the remarkable stories from this mission is that of 10 year old Maria, the oldest of a family of five children, but the only one with a cleft. Her father told us that she had stopped going to school because the children made fun of her every day. We were able to repair her complete unilateral cleft lip as well as her palate, and she now is looking forward to returning to school. Maria is pictured at the right, before and after surgery.

This mission was made possible by a Rotary International Vocational Training Team Global Grant; as well as Outreach International Tanzania; Rotary Districts 6910 and 9211; and the Rotary Clubs of Greene and Putnam Counties, Braselton, Monroe NC, Toccoa, Jasper, Oglethorpe County, and Rome. We would also like to recognize our AfS East team: VP Barbara Fisher and board member Tina Hollcroft; our wonderful volunteers; and our generous donors.

Trip Report: Wenzhou, China

In November we completed a mission to the Chinese city of Wenzhou, which has been host to two previous medical missions as well as a Treatment Center and several smaller teaching missions. During the two-week mission, 100 surgeries were performed on 91 patients, and the total value of the donated medical services was $433,678.

One case that particularly touched our hearts was that of a child and his loving grandparents. In China some still consider it bad luck to have a child born with a cleft lip. Hongtao Lei, now six months old, was abandoned at birth by both his parents. According to his grandmother, his parents are young and poor, and didn’t want anything to do with him.

Although she is very young herself and makes little money, his grandmother believed no matter how imperfect her grandson may be, it is essentially her duty to raise him into a respectable, honest man. She and her husband try to make ends meet by farming and selling vegetables, but she always knew they could never afford to pay for a reparative surgery for Hongtao. But now her prayers have been answered, and Hongtao has received his life-changing surgery.

We would like to thank all donors and volunteers, the Wenzhou Peoples Alliance for Smiles, the Chinese Consulate of San Francisco, Quentin Li, Dr. Colin Wong, and everyone who donated supplies or supported our efforts.

Where Your Donations Went

Today, the big questions we hear from donors are: “What did you do with my donation? Where did my money go? What value does my donation have?” Well here is our answer!

Every non profit has the following costs:

  1. Operational Costs — which include direct expenses (such as airfares & medical supplies) and indirect expenses (such as warehouse space & salaries for staff who make the missions happen).
  2. Overhead Costs — which include fundraising and general management expenses.

For Fiscal 2012 (July 2012 to June 2013) Alliance for Smiles spent a very modest 18% on overhead with 82% of funds directed totally to operational (program) expenses.

However, when factoring in the value of donated professional services, an element that needs to be figured into the entire financial picture, the overhead figure is reduced to 4%. This percentage means that out of every dollar donated only 4¢ (four cents!) goes to overhead. The value of our donated professional services is a whopping $2.2 Million.

We know that without our huge bank of volunteers we would need more employees, and our budget and overhead would be much larger. It is volunteer services that make us so efficient and cost-effective. Your donation stretches a long way to provide our services and help kids who would otherwise not have a future.

Mark Your Calendar!

Volunteer Appreciation Gala – Feb 22, 2014
Next year Alliance for Smiles will once again hold the annual Volunteer Appreciation Gala at the W Hotel. The date is set for the evening of 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 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!

The day after the gala, 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.