Santa Cruz, Bolivia Medical Mission
From March 10 through 18, Operation Smile conducted an international medical mission in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. During the medical mission, 269 people received patient assessments and 134 received surgery.
Stories from the medical mission:
Santos and his father had to travel for over 24 hours to get Santos the cleft care he needed at the Operation Smile medical mission in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Their family resides in a small village in Bolivia that is located very far from any public transportation network. In order to access the buses that would take them to Santa Cruz, Santos' father walked for nine hours carrying his son on his hip for the entire journey. It took several bus rides and over a dozen additional hours for the father and son to reach the medical mission site. Once at the medical mission, Santos' father struggled to communicate with the medical volunteers as Santos' family speaks a local Bolivian language rather than Spanish, the most prominent language in the country. However, despite the language barrier, Santos was all smiles around the Operation Smile team and proudly showed off the ballon he was given to everyone he met!
This 15-year-old Operation Smile patient has worn a handkerchief over his face every day of his life to hide his cleft lip. However, as soon as he was notified that he would be receiving surgery, he enthusiatically removed the handkerchief and asked Operation Smile staff members to take his photo
Photos from Santa Cruz, Bolivia medical mission March 10- 18, 2016:
Since 1999, Operation Smile has conducted medical programs in the cities of Cochobamba and Santa Cruz, where patients from the capital city of La Paz can access Operation Smile’s cleft lip and cleft palate services.
In addition to providing free surgical care in Bolivia, Operation Smile offers ongoing speech therapy, dentistry, and psychology in the Santa Cruz offices, and provides free consultations to around 300 patients per month.
Operation Smile's global volunteer network includes more than 80 volunteers from Bolivia, who donate their time in Bolivia and all over the world. In the past 16 years, Operation Smile has treated more than 2,900 patients in Bolivia with cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities.
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