What an amazing week we had in Cebu. We met so many beautiful children & their families. As always the Smile for Me team collaborated with other dedicated health professionals to help these children. 

As we had not been since the pandemic we needed extra time to prepare for the operating week. The team spent three days settling into ACE Medical, reviewing our stored stock, purchasing any remaining necessary items, setting up the theatres & getting ready to meet the families. 

96 families had signed up for screening day, which began on the Sunday. From this the children were assigned to surgical & dental lists. 

As usual we had 4 operating tables running simultaneously. With the help of local medical & nursing staff we operated on 66 patients. We provided education to the local medical & nursing staff wherever possible during this week. 

This week the youngest the child we operated on was 5 month old baby Jefferson with a cleft lip. Our oldest was 29 year old Felix, who had a cleft palate repair. 

We always go home on such a big high after being part of these beautiful families lives. These simple procedures make such a significant difference to them. We love hearing their stories, although sometimes it breaks our heart when we hear some of their hardships. 

Our last visit was in 2019 prior to the Covid pandemic, and we heard multiple harrowing stories of patients being abandoned because of their cleft defects. At the same time we also heard heart warming stories of patients crying tears of happiness when they saw their results following the surgery. 

The Smile for Me team will do anything in their power to ensure they receive this life changing operation, to support patients and their families. 

The Smile for Me team has returned home with so many fond memories of all the children & families we met whilst in Cebu. It was our absolute pleasure to be involved in changing the lives of so many beautiful children. 

Such simple procedures can make such a difference & we couldn’t do it without the help and support of our partners, various individuals & organisations. 

The first of those we need to thanks is Operation Restore Hope America (ORH). ORH have partnered with Smile for Me for many years. These dedicated doctors have provided surgery along with the Smile for Me team since the inception of Smile for Me. It is their skilled hands that help give the children back their smile. 

Without our partners in the Phillipines AMRO – the All-Terrain Medical Relief Organisation we could not manage to provide the surgery for the children. They help in advertising the surgical mission, arrange the hospital & assemble the list of patients ready to be screened. Their support during the mission is also invaluable. 

This year was our first year at ACE Medical & we thank them for opening their facilities to us. The new facility catered for all our needs, the staff were friendly, capable, fantastic & accomodating. We look forward to partnering with them again next year. 

Every year Lothar & the Angels are the amazing dental team that work along side the medical team. Many of the children require extensive dental procedures prior to the surgery as part of the overall management of the cleft lips & palates on the children. 

This year new members of the dental team were initiated into the team & have joined as the cherubs. As always the dental team also utilised a dental bus to perform another 40 dental procedures associated with the mission. 

The clowns are a popular addition to the team on screening day. They entertain the children & their families while they are waiting to be assessed by the medical & dental team. They have been entertaining the families for 20 years now. 

Prince of Wales Private Hospital (POWP) in Randwick is where most of the Smile for Me team work & also where Smile for Me was born. As always Prince of Wales Private has provided financial support & granted so many of the nursing staff leave at the same time. 

This year we had to purchase a significantly increased amount of disposables, medical equipment & medications to replace items that had been stored in Cebu during the pandemic & were unusable. POWP stepped up & donated a substantial amount of supplies to be used over the week. We are very grateful for their generous support. 

This year we were again joined by many volunteer nurses in Cebu who took leave from their jobs to come & volunteer with the Smile for Me team. Some were old faces who have joined us many times, others were new to the mission & we hope to see them again. 

Every year there are two people in the background who help many families to attend the surgical mission. Together Kathy Thornhill & Imee Bijou help to bring families from the neighbouring island of Mindanao. Together they support 10-15 families every year to travel to Cebu & stay while they have their surgery. They have teamed up since Imee’s son was operated on by the team over ten years ago.

Lastly but definitely not least I would personally like to thank the members of the Smile for Me team who worked tirelessly during the surgical mission. They volunteer their time & skills to provide free, safe surgery on these beautiful children. 

I am in awe of their dedication & commitment. They were incredibly supportive of each other & all our partners during the week. They also work hard to fundraise during the year so we can help as many families as we do. 

We love going to Cebu & have so much fun which makes the long 13 hour days fly past. So many thanks to the Smile for Me team & their supportive families. 

As mentioned we couldn’t do what we do without the support & commitment of all of our partners, organisations & individuals so a massive thank you to everyone involved.

We are already planning next years surgical mission in Cebu & have several patients lined up already. If you would like to help us help the children please donate now on the link provided on this website.   Your donation can change a child’s life forever.