I'm really mad, because I just wrote this entire post and for some reason accidentally erased it, and I swear I almost bashed my stupid computer, as well as my own dumb head, in with one of O's toys. But it's so important that I will sit here for another 20 minutes and write it all over the eff again.
I'd like to talk about an organization that is so so important to me and personally close to my heart. I hope I can introduce it to as many people as I can that aren't already familiar with it. It's called Operation Smile. This organization is a worldwide medical charity whose network of global volunteers are dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults with cleft lip and palate. Operation Smile was founded by Dr. William P. Magee Jr. a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse and clinical social worker. In 1982, the Magees traveled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children's cleft lips and cleft palates. They discovered hundreds of children ravaged by deformities, and although they helped many children, the volunteers were forced to turn away the majority of those who sought help. The Magees saw the need and Operation Smile was born.
You see I was born with Bi-lateral Cleft Lip and Palate, which means the cleft was on both sides of my lip and required a lot of work. Being born this was is a major major part of my life and everything I have endured because of it has shaped my entire existence. From being made fun of to having to go through painful surgeries all my childhood, and eventually to becoming a drug addict because I couldn't deal with all the memories of what I went through. All of this centers around the simple (well complicated) fact that i was 1 in 700 children born with a cleft lip and Palate. But the thing is, is that I was very very lucky in my situation. My mother worked at the same company for 26 years to get great insurance for my treatments, dental care, speech therapy, etc. I was brought to some of the greatest surgeons in the field to have my last surgery when I was 14 at the UCLA medical center. There are so many children in so many countries that cannot afford food let alone surgeries. It's more common in certain poor countries and South America and Asia, where babies with cleft really need help. And that very first surgery to close the cleft is the most important. This closure helps the baby to eat and eventually learn to speak, and without it life will be very brutal for them.
That is why I'm so happy and thankful that Operation Smile exists. They provide medical and dental care for children and Adults with cleft in other countries as well as in America too. It's so hard for new parents who have just discovered their baby has a cleft to deal with the overwhelming task at hand. They often don't know where to begin in getting their child the proper surgeries, dental, breast/bottle feeding care, and speech therapy that they need. Operation Smile is making it possible for those families to thrive and have happy healthy lives. And they even help with Dental care which is so vital when it comes to Cleft. Believe me, I spent almost my entire childhood in a Dentist or Orthodontist chair.
Without organizations like this, before my family had insurance, I wouldn't have had the care that I needed as a kid. I really hope that all people born with Cleft can one day be as lucky as I was. Today, a lot of people can't even notice that I had a cleft and although I am not vain (after going through a childhood where I didn't look normal at all) I am so thankful for that and hope this can be achieved over and over again with others.I really really urge you to take a moment to learn about Operation Smile and all the miracles they are performing. And if you are in a place where you can donate please consider it. Thanks for reading and please spread the word.