Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 2 - All Smiles in Fortaleza!!!

Today I woke up at 5:15 am and left the hotel at 6! We screened lots of kids and most have cleft palates. It seems their cleft lip conditions had been repaired on previous missions. Much of the time today I spent coloring with the kids as they are waiting to be screened. It's a lot of pressure to wait to see if you qualify for an operation. It's sad to see the families that have to leave and try again another time. But, the coloring was fun and a great way to take the kids' minds off what was going on. Sam DeVito, my student volunteer partner and I each brought two overly-stuffed huge suitcses with toys, soccer balls and lots to play with and give away. Today, we also made bracelets and sunglasses out of pipe cleaners! We also made bracelets with the Marines. Getting to meet and play with the children is the best. Unexpectedly, I was coloring with a sweet little boy who was sitting on my lap and he peed on me. Oh well! We did about 15 presentations to the waiting families and their kids on oral hygiene, making healthy food choices, oral rehydration and other topics! We have a translator and many of the words on the posters I made are in Portuguese. This adorable girl, Mayana, helped us with our presentations the whole time! I loved her and those big brown eyes!! We tried to make it fun when we taught kids how to brush their teeth properly. I brought this huge caste mouth (you can see it in the photo with Mayana) to demonstrate how to brush your teeth.

One of the best moments was a break we took when I played soccer with Operation Smile's co-founder, Kathy Magee, Dr. Chong and two little boys who could juggle and do tricks! I'm amazed at how universal soccer is...la joga bonito!! One of the biggest pop stars of Brazil, Dinho, made an appearance at the hospital!! Operation Smile's co-founder, Dr. Bill Magee, introduced Sam and I to Dinho and we were interviewed and took photos with him. Just being a student volunteer and we're treated like rock stars - so unexpected!

At the end of the day, my most lasting impression is the universal love a mother and father have for their child. These Brazilian parents just want the best for their kids and are so humble and welcoming. It's humbled me and made me think twice in a way I never expected - seeing people who literally have nothing being profoundly grateful that their kids can be given a chance at normal life. The most memorable moment today came when I just gave a dad one mini beach ball for his child. When he touched his heart and pointed to me to thank me as he walked away, I have never felt so blessed!! Just to have this opportunity to experience charity work at it best with amazing volunteers and beautiful Brazilian families, well it doesn't get sweeter than this. Tomorrow's our team bonding Beach day - I can't wait!!!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Thank you all SOOOO much who have generously donated!! This is a picture of all the items (and over 800 toothbrushes) I will be bringing with me to Fortaleza on Saturday!! The kids will LOVE it! People like you make a difference in the world and will definitely change a child's life in Brazil. I love you guys!!! Pray for a safe flight for the entire medical and student team!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Almost there!!

THANK YOU!!!! Everyone has been so generous that I have just about everything on my "wish list" for the kids - last thing is soccer balls!!

I just returned from the OpSmile International Student Leadership Conference in Denver. The theme was "Be The Change" - super inspirational. A speaker talked about when she was 18 travelling to Nepal and found orphans needed homes there. She started a grass-roots campaign and now has built a house where 300 orphans live and go to school. She only had $5,000 in life savings to start it off and was just a teenager. Another speaker told us to surround ourselves with people who make us better - help us to be our "best selves" - and support us on our path in life.

Again, hugs and kisses to my amazing friends and family who have donated to help the children of Fortaleza! Obrigado!!