When Mission Smile was in town for their International Cleft Mission camp at GITAM Dental College and Hospital, Yo! Vizag caught up with them to know more.
Shunned by society for being different and sometimes even believed to be cursed or evil, the life of a person born with cleft lip, palate, orofacial clefts or facial deformities is not an easy one. Mission Smile is a medical non-profit organisation working towards simplifying the lives of such people. Anything from genes to improper healthcare during pregnancy could cause clefts, making it one of the most common birth defects. Except for a low percentage of them suffering from heart anomalies, these people are in no way disabled.
Established in 2002, Mission Smile has provided free surgeries and transformed more than 30,000 underprivileged lives through the years. The organisation deserves credit for almost making Assam the first cleft-free state in the country. Mission Smile is the ideal medium to bring about change, aided by its many donors and volunteers. The camp held at GITAM was run like clockwork by the Vizag Camp Chief Rafi Ur Rehman, Coordinator Jantu Deb and several volunteers from GITAM, who oversaw the process of setting up children in a playroom before taking them in to be operated and eventually to recovery. The donor, Muthoot Pappachan Foundation, and an adept team of 34 medical and non-medical volunteers from India and abroad, helped treat 90 clefts in a span of seven days. Local assistance was provided with respect to lending medical equipment, recruitment of patients and creating awareness.
“We’ve been associated with Mission Smile since two years. Our organisation actively engages in the program; by training the staff of Muthoot Fincorp in creating awareness and recruitment. Muthoot Fincorp branches act as a juncture for patients to get connected to the scheme. We’ve noticed Coastal Andhra has a higher number of patients than anywhere else in the country, so we need all the support we can get. After the successful 676 surgeries in South India, we are now extending the programme to North as well.”
Dr. Prasanthkumar Nellickal
Head – CSR, Muthoot Pappachan Foundation
“When a relatively short period of 45 minutes to 2 hours can change a child’s life, it is worth a chance. Anyone who truly understands the difficulties a child with cleft faces would want to help. They face physical, psychological, sociological and superstitious difficulties, forcing them into isolation. We correct the functional challenge in the young and old, hoping the social and psychological acceptance comes through, and it does for most of them. That is success.“
Director – Partnership, Mission Smile