June 16th, 2008
A group of Utahns just returned from a humanitarian mission to Mexico with the charity Operation Smile. The charity sponsors cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children throughout the world.
Many Utahns have been involved for more than 25 years, and that volunteer list is growing as more groups travel to see for themselves how lives are changed.
Hundreds of children wait in line, their parents hope and wonder will our child be chosen? During one week this June, more than 130 children’s faces changed. Cleft lips and palates were fixed.
Each Operation Smile mission costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to transport people and equipment to foreign countries. That’s where corporate sponsors come in.
Joe Morton and his brother, Gordon, commit a portion of XanGo’s profits to children’s’ charities, like Operation Smile.
Morton said, “I brought my 12-year-old son, Kaden, with me, and for him to be able to sit next to a 12-year-old or an 11-year-old, someone his age, to see how much of an impact it would make on their lives … to watch children come into that clinic with face masks on.”
The surgeries take less than an hour, but the results are stunning. The before-and-after photos of two children, Camacho and Angel, are a reminder of how quickly lives change. “They can’t integrate into society,” Morton said. “It’s very difficult for us to even comprehend that, but it is happening. But then leaving with a fresh outlook on life with hope, and that’s what was such a wonderful thing to see.”
Operation Smile directors say on-site experiences inspire even more company employees to volunteer time and money. With support, the organization is now training Mexican doctors and nurses to perform a few surgeries until a new group from America arrives. Don Watkins is on the Operation Smile Board of Directors. He says, “They take their vacation time but asking them to pay their whole way is … well, some of them do that, too. But we need to buy the medical equipment, and we need to leave the medical equipment there, so it can be self-sustaining within a few years.”
The XanGo group is fundraising for a second trip to Mexico sometime this fall.