Mending Faces – Giving More than a Smile
By Jeremy Douglas, First Year Volunteer
The first time I ever came in contact with the Mending Faces organization was at the (now) yearly barbeque fundraiser in Boulder, Colorado. Simply put, I had no idea the organization centered its cleft palate surgery program in the Philippines. I’d heard about all of the wonderful work the organization had done with children needing cleft palate surgeries, but I didn’t realize all of this work was being completed in Southeast Asia – let alone in such an underprivileged area where cleft lips and palates affect some 4,000 plus newborn babies ever year.
Quickly I learned just how passionate the volunteers for Mending Faces are and just how big of a problem they are addressing. Looking at pictures and reading information from past missions spurred my interest further, but it was the stories being exchanged at the barbeque and the discussions between the volunteers that made me examine my own life and ask “What have I done to help others in need?”
I regret to say, not enough, especially compared to those that make sacrifices every year to take part in this medical mission. Suddenly, this thought drove deep because I have already lived a privileged life at the young age of 26. I basically have the opportunity and support around me to do basically whatever I choose – all that matters is whether or not I would decide to pursue these opportunities. In pondering this thought, I felt inspired to take action from the urge to want to give back and help support the underprivileged that have limited opportunity. I started to understand what it meant to take part in such a challenging, but wonderful journey the Mending Faces volunteers embark upon ever year.
While no one can do everything, everyone can do something. I believe this truth is evident and exemplified by the Mending Faces organization because each year dozens of volunteers and even more benefactors join together for a greater cause – to change the lives of children and their families forever. As we are fast approaching our mission in February, I am realizing that our goal is not just to provide free medical care and a brand new smile to those in need, but rather a new beginning to children whom otherwise would lead lives of potential isolation and shame. Mending Faces is helping open doors to the opportunities these children might otherwise never know and experience. From someone lucky enough to have a range of opportunities ahead of him, I don’t think there could be anything more ideal to pass along to others.
I am so very thankful for the opportunity to join the team in Kalibo this year and am looking forward to doing the best I can to help create new pathways for these children and their families. I know everyone on the team is looking forward to all that this journey will bring and I can’t wait to work side by side those that share such a strong passion for creating not only a beautiful smile, but a new sense of hope. With a lot to learn and even more to give, I am excited to be one of the newest members of a Mending Faces organization that inspires the urge to give to a greater cause and provides a lifetime of smiles.