Michelle’s experience was a life-changing cleft surgery that forever changed the trajectory of her life, but the journey along the way was by no means a smooth ride.
Michelle was born a healthy baby on August 23, 1989. However, the doctors quickly informed her parents that she had a cleft lip and palate. Her parents started to worry not only about the financial and physical challenges but the social stigma it entails.
It was not long after their community heard about Operation Smile Philippines and our mission of providing access to quality health care to children, especially for cleft surgery.
Coups d’ état
As excited as the family was to finally get life-changing surgery, the political landscape in the country made their journey more challenging. The Philippines experienced coups d’ état in December of the same year.
But postponing the mission was not an option for Operation Smile Philippines. Despite the difficulties, the foundation was able to source and secure the materials for surgery as well as talented volunteers to get the job done.
As a result, Michelle was operated in her 5th month and was able to make a full recovery after.
With the help of numerous donors and partners as well as the unyielding efforts of our volunteers – Michelle was able to live the life she wanted. She was able to study with more confidence. Not only did she complete her studies, but she was also given outstanding awards in high school. She truly experienced what it meant to be a teenager, joining singing contests, playing guitar, and hanging out with friends.
She then graduated with a degree in Office Administration with a Major in Office Management. And in October 2020, she got married to her boyfriend of 10 years.
Michelle’s story shows the importance of involvement to make a positive impact. Small ripples accumulate into big waves of change.
Giving a child a new smile led to a smoother road for their life journey to begin.