Operation Smile

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 when Dr. William (Bill) P. Magee, Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse and clinical social worker, made their first trip to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children's cleft lips and cleft palates. Magee, who spoke at the District’s first Breakfast on July 28, explained how his organization is fulfilling this year’s Rotary motto, “Be a Gift to the World.”
Cleft palate is a split (cleft) in the lip or palate, which is immediately identifiable at birth. People born with this disorder and if are not treated immediately, may suffer from malnutrition, cognitive impairment, psychological problems, unemployment, and perhaps worst of all, being ostracized by their community.
Why did Magee take on the task of solving this worldwide challenge, which affects some 250,000 babies each year? Because it was a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).  Magee was quoting from James Collins and Jerry Porras’ 1994 book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Magee told us that a BHAG inspires businesses to define visionary goals that are more strategic and emotionally compelling. These goals can take 10 or more years to achieve. Cleft palates definitely fit the definition of a BHAG.
During Operation Smile’s 33-year history the organization has barely touched the tip of the iceberg having operated on about 250,000 children. In completing these operations they have relied on the generosity of some 5,000 medical volunteers. Our District Governor, DJ Sun, was one of those volunteers. Magee’s teams have visited 60 countries completing 180 missions. Through his program, “Children go from hopelessness to possibilities,” said Magee. “Millions of kids are imprisoned in their bodies because of cleft palates.”
In their quest to serve those in need Operation Smile depends on grassroots fundraising as well as donations of surgical equipment and supplies from medical and pharmaceutical companies. Today, Operation Smile is an international medical charity that has a global network of thousands of credentialed medical volunteers from more than 80 countries.
To build long-term sufficiency in resource poor Second and Third World countries, Magee said that Operation Smile works hand-in-hand with local medical professionals, governments, hospitals, and NGOs to break down barriers to ensure that children get the care they deserve.  In part, his organization achieves this by training local doctors and medical professionals so they are empowered to treat their own communities. In addition, Operation Smile donates medical equipment and supplies. In the above picture are Dr. William Magee, Jr. (l) and District Governor DJ Sun.