Friday, August 21, 2009

A New Journey

Two days back I sent an e-mail to 100 friends and acquaint- ances regarding my new-found interest in Operation Smile, a cause which organizes volunteers who travel around the world on mission trips to repair the smiles of infants and children born with cleft lips and palates. The cause touches me personally, as my dear friend Susie's baby was born with cleft lip and palate, and it is a journey I've chosen to travel along with her as one of her closest friends, ever since she discovered at her 20-week sonogram that little Liam would be born with this condition. Long story/short, I've been on the receiving end of phone calls from Susie while her weeks-old baby was being admitted to the hospital and treated like a pin cushion, witnessed him turn bright red/bordering on blue due to accidental choking while feeding, and learned the ins and outs of caring for an infant with cleft lip and palate...something I never imagined encountering in my life.The e-mail itself announced the honorary fund I'd established in Liam's name to support the efforts of Operation Smile and explained how contributions funded the mission trips that allow volunteers to perform $240, hour-long surgeries that change children's lives forever. In case you still aren't convinced why I've been so moved by this cause, think to yourself if you looked in the mirror and your smile were deformed. For cleft lip and palate children, portions of their lips are missing. If you've had orthodontic work in the past or are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment, think of how painful it is and how you might have been made fun of by classmates in school. For cleft lip and palate children, classmates make fun of them to the point that grade-school aged children refuse to leave their homes. At the very least, take your tongue and touch the roof of your mouth right now. Cleft lip and palate children don't even have a roof of their mouth (as we know it) to touch with their tongues, and no protective barrier between their nasal passages and throat. If any of these concepts affect you in the least, then you have a small understanding of why I feel Operation Smile's work is so important.

Unfortunately, the very first e-mail I received in response to the appeal was an extremely negative criticism toward me from a family member I will not name, regarding family matters I will not detail here. After a bout of tears at the callousness of the message, I regrouped and decided that this would not deter me from my efforts. In fact, merely minutes later, another angelic friend of mine messaged me right away to let me know she was the first to contribute...

I thank her sincerely, from the bottom of my heart--and very truly hope you will join her.

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