Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Smiles, Smiles, Smiles: My Mission to Fortaleza!

First of all, thank you soooo much for being interested in looking at my blog and helping to change the world- one smile at a time!!!

As you may know, I'm going to Fortaleza, Brazil on a 12 day Operation Smile medical mission from August 28 to September 8, 2010. I'm unbelievably excited and honored to be a student volunteer!! Operation Smile provides life-changing facial reconstructive surgeries to children born with cleft lips and cleft palates in third world countries. 5,786 miles away & 23+ hours of travel & LiFe ChAnGiNg SmiLeS - yessss !

(That's where I'm going!!!!)

I created this blog in the hopes that my friends and family (yes, you guys!) would be interested in helping to sponsor my trip for me to bring supplies to the children in the hospital. Operation Smile pays for the airfare, hotel and dinners of the mission team's doctors, nurses, adult and student volunteers. Right now, I am asking for DONATIONS-DONATIONS-DONATIONS on the kid's supply wish list.

I am SOOOOOOO excited! This has been 2 years in the making. The importance of finding a way to help the most vulnerable in society, especially children, motivated my sister and I to start our San Clemente High School campus chapter in 2008, which has raised $20,000 in donations to Operation Smile so far! I was SO stoked to be chosen to attend the Mission Training Workshop because only two high school student volunteers are selected to go on an Operation Smile mission. The student volunteers serve as health care educators giving presentations on oral and dental hygiene, burn care and prevention, oral rehydration therapy and nutrition to the children, their families and at orphanages and schools; I will also be there to play with and comfort the kids and their families during screening, pre-op and post-op. My student volunteer partner (who is an awesome Jersey girl- just as passionate about OP Smile as I am!) and I will also support the medical team in any way. They say we'll have 12 hour working days to screen about 200 children and provide as many surgeries in the time we're there. I can't wait; the day needs to come faster!!! :)

My sister, Sam, is my hero and she volunteered last November on Operation Smile's 20th Anniversary mission to Hanoi, Vietnam. Sam said the children in the screening and pre-op areas LOVED playing with bubbles, coloring books and crayons, stickers, beach balls, and little toys that light up! She brought over 1,000 donated toothbrushes. I'd also like to give away small soccer balls (hey, it's Brazil, soccer capital of the world! Or should I say futebol!)! Sam said meeting the Vietnamese children, families and volunteers changed her life in a big way. I know I will be forever changed by my time in Brazil. (Click here for Sam's mission story)

I feel blessed and have soooooo much to be thankful for (even going on this trip is a blessing!). I believe it is my responsibility to give back in any way I can. There's no reason those less fortunate should needlessly live in a world of isolation and pain. There's no reason a child should be shunned in their community and suffer the humiliation of an easily correctable facial deformity. How many ways can you change people's lives in 45 minutes?!?!? That's how long the $240 surgery takes.

PLEASE contact me (there's a little box with my contact info in the bottom right hand column of the page) if you're interested in helping sponsor my trip! Any money donated goes directly to the purchasing of supplies for the children! If you can donate any of the items or if you could make a monetary donation of any amount, please email me and I'll give you my mailing address if you don't already have it!! :)

I hope you will support me on my journey to help change the world- one smile at a time! I hope you find OP Smile as incredible and unbelievable as I do. :) THANK YOU! THANK YOU! OBRIGADO! (in Portuguese!) OBRIGADO!

Much Love, xoxo,


"Don't let the world change your smile; let your smile change the world."