Operation Smile Morocco: A smile in our children’s future

Written by Frank Calviño

Can you measure happiness? Yes, you can. Some people’s jobs, that is, some lucky people’s jobs, are profitable in smiles. Operation Smile Morocco is one of these organizations committed to one single goal: to make our world a place worth living for, a place worth smiling for.

The malformation such as cleft lip and palate occurs in about 1 to 2 per 1000 births in the developed world, and is about twice as common in males as females. This malformation is not a mere aesthetic problem: in 2013 it resulted in about 3,300 deaths globally, and we can be grateful that number has decreased considerably since 1997 when it hit the mark of 7,600 deaths. If you were to have a child born with this malformation, and you are a middle class citizen of a developed country, the sheer number of operations, hospitalizations and surgical procedures involved in treating this condition to prevent further complications, could easily be overwhelming for you at a personal level and represent bankruptcy at a financial level. If on the contrary you are a citizen of an underdeveloped country, to have a child with this condition could lead you to profound desperation and perhaps, to absolute poverty.   

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Cleft palate and lip is not only a serious health issue, but also, a complex sociocultural problem. It is a health issue that is always there, visible to everyone and anyone. You could say, with no risk of exaggeration, that it is one of the most visible deformities that exist. Babies and children that suffer this cleft lip condition tend to be marginalized and bullied both by other children, and even by adults. Ostracized for their condition, these children are often marginalized by society. This is a bleak future that a courageous group of physicians have decided to prevent at all costs. The following tale proves that heroes do not wear red capes, they wear white coats.   

Operation Smile Morocco is an NGO committed to providing free health care, medical procedures and medical treatment for children with cleft lip condition. It belongs to Operation Smile International and in its Moroccan chapter caters to the needs and hopes of all children not only in Morocco but in several adjacent African nations. The first medical mission of Operation Smile Morocco took place in 1998 where 299 children received free medical evaluations and 126 patients received life-changing surgery.

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Since 1999, with the support of Operation Smile International, the Ministry of Health and its sponsors, Operation Smile Morocco has organized medical missions to help children from Morocco and its neighboring countries. These medical missions are comprised of Moroccan and international teams of healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and talent to provide free medical and surgical care to children suffering from cleft lips, cleft palates and burns.

The physicians, nurses and volunteers from many different fields of expertise, that work tirelessly in this titanic task, truly transform the world for these kids, bringing, not only metaphorically but literally, the smile back to their faces. They heal both their body and soul. But they can not do this job alone. The NGO requires support, equipment, resources and more volunteers, and it requires money. That is how life works. That is how the world turns.

A battle for happiness  

In 2008, Operation Smile Morocco opened its Care Center in Casablanca. The center operates year-round to provide ongoing medical care to hundreds of children every year. The Care Center also serves as headquarters for Operation Smile Morocco’s clinical and education programs as well as its administrative and fundraising activities.

Also in 2008, Operation Smile Morocco opened a dental clinic, the Angus Lawson Dental Care (ALDC) Department, within its Care Center. The clinic boasts state-of-the-art equipment, which allows more than 100 dental volunteers of Operation Smile Morocco to treat hundreds of children each week. The dental clinic was funded, in part, by the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust of the UK, which makes funds available to support children from underprivileged or disadvantaged backgrounds, and to meet healthcare and educational needs.

This monumental task that Operation Smile Morocco has been developing in northern Africa, has made the organization shine as an example of commitment, quality and excellence, receiving several international quality awards, notable among them, the prestigious BID World Quality Commitment recognition, that proves how – through well-organized collective work – mankind can be lead to a brighter future.

For its unquestionable commitment to provide health solutions for children with cleft lip and palate, for providing a vital service under the highest standards of quality, for its drive to achieve excellence and above all else, for its tireless effort to bring smiles back to the faces of our future, of our children, Business Initiative Directions decided to grant the 2016 BID World Quality Commitment recognition to Operation Smile Morocco, in recognition to its unquestionable commitment to Quality and Excellence.    


 

About the author

Frank Calviño

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