A New Smile for Marcus, Philippines 

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One-year old Marcus from the Philippines, captured the hearts of our Australian volunteers on a mission to Cavite. During the mission screening day Marcus spent most of the day running around and giggling not fazed by what was happening around him. For mother Mary, giving birth to a child with a cleft lip and palate was a huge shock, it was also a shock to her friends, family and community who often told her they were disappointed in her and that she had failed as a mother. Three months after he was born, Mary and her husband learned that surgery to repair Marcus’ cleft lip and palate was possible. However, with an average daily income of 306 pesos ($7.50 AUD) the families lack of financial resources made it impossible for them to afford the surgery for Marcus. They eventually came across a hospital that was providing cleft surgeries to children and attended the screening, unfortunately they were never called to receive a surgery.

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Mary and her husband had lost hope, until one day when her brother gave her a flyer about the upcoming Operation Smile medical mission that would provide free surgeries to children in Dasmarinas, Cavite- a one-hour trip by car from their home. Mary and her husband were ecstatic about the possibility of Marcus finally receiving a surgery. At the mission hospital, Mary had a mix of emotions- she was sad to see so many children with a cleft condition but she was also happy to know there were other children out there like Marcus, as she had only ever seen one other person with a cleft.

Mary told our volunteers that despite Marcus’ happy, bubbly, outgoing personality he is often teased by local children who call him “cleft” and ask what is wrong with him. Though he so young and doesn’t understand the cruel remarks people make to him, it took a toll on Mary, and she knew she could not let her son grow up and be faced with bullies every day.

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Marcus was cleared on screening day to receive a surgery, and our Australian volunteers operated on him.

After Marcus’ surgery, with tears in her eyes Mary said “Look at my boy, look at how handsome he is, just like a model” Marcus’ bubbly, happy personality was definitely infectious, and we know that Marcus’ future will be very bright!

"We strive for a world where no child suffers the risks and uncertainties of a facial deformity."

- Richard Lewandowski, Plastic Surgeon, Co-Founder Operation Smile Australia