By Staff Reporter
The all Volunteer US and Canadian Surgical team, OPERATION OF HOPE dedicates their upcoming cleft surgical mission in Zimbabwe in honor of Oliver Mtukudzi, as they target 80 free facial reconstructive surgeries beginning May 2019.
Operation of Hope which celebrates 30 years of Good Works in 2019 will be in Zimbabwe from May to do the annual operations.
Operation of Hope is a US/Canadian based surgical charity and will be in Zimbabwe for their 26th surgical mission to Zimbabwe.
Since 2006, they have performed more than 5,000 free cleft surgeries for children and adults in Zimbabwe, alone.
This mission, according to Jennifer Mora Trubenbach, CEO of Operation of Hope, is lovingly dedicated to Oliver Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe’s beloved musician who passed away in January.
“Our surgical team has had many fond memories over the years of of Oliver and his band, and throughout the years, Oliver’s daughter Selmor and her husband, Tendai Manatsa have supported the team on screening day serenading patients with their beautiful music”, she said.
80 children and adults are targeted for a free facial reconstructive surgery at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, Screening Day: Sat. May 4th and at Harare Central Hospital, Sunday, May 19th, 8:30 am
On a previous surgical camp, they included one special patient, 11-year-old Arthur whose face was recently crushed by a donkey cart.
The surgical team, headed by Christiaan Schrag originally from Bulawayo Zimbabwe, along with Dr. Ryan Frank, performed a 4-hour surgery using plates and wires to put Arthur’s face back together.
“The timing was perfect,” said Operation of Hope, CEO Jennifer Mora.
It was Friday and usually our surgical schedule is completely full but on this particular day, we just happened to have enough time to perform this amazing surgery”.
The team of Board certified reconstructive surgeons and 18 other volunteers, support the confidence and social success of children around the world.
“Having an attractive smile is crucial not only for self-esteem but also for the ability to interact effectively in modern society, where smiling is one of the most basic interactions between people,” says Mora Trubenbach, “Some of these children don’t have a smile at all.
Often, they cover their mouths and are hidden from school or church because of this relatively easy to fix problem, being a cleft lip or cleft palate.”
Operation of Hope depends on the kindness of private citizens, sponsors and the services of medical volunteers as all surgeries are free of charge to patients and their families.
“We are often asked as Americans, are we independently wealthy to do this work.
No, Jennifer smiles. Most of the volunteers love to come to Zimbabwe for the very reason they first got into medicine – to help as many people as they can because they love doing so.
Several of our volunteers are retired and instead of playing golf they choose to do these missions. Most of the nurses raise their funds by fundraising their own airfare by sharing the excitement of this trip with family and friends.
Operation of Hope’s funding comes from just ordinary people with big hearts and who truly understand what it would be like, if their own child needed his surgery and didn’t have the financial means.
And, she adds, we love the beautiful people of Zimbabwe and their incredible spirit.
Schweppes Zimbabwe was most helpful in providing juice and water for the patients, as well as, thanking the team with a celebration team dinner.
“It’s more than water and juice, said Jennifer “If babies are hydrated before surgery it’s much more difficult to put in an IV, and after surgery the water and juice is so instrumental in rehydrating the patient so they can recover faster.
“We are so thankful to Schweppes for truly understanding our mission and helping us take care of these kids as safely as we can,” she added.
EcoNet has also been supportive in helping us get the word out to prospective patients, especially those on the rural areas.
And the local Rotary Clubs in Harare and Bulawayo have been most helpful with screening day and local transport needs.
The Ministry of Health waived the Medical and Nursing Council fees for the team last year, saving the volunteer team thousands of dollars in registration fees. We are hoping they will extend this kindness on this upcoming mission.
This year’s team represents volunteers from Canada, California, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and Massachusetts.
Emirates Airlines in partnership with the Emirates Foundation was also instrumental in helping with the volunteer’s airfare.
In the US, this is a $35K -$80K surgery and the Operation of Hope team raises money all year to offer these surgeries for free to Zimbabweans.
Not only are cleft sufferers given the changes they need to have a chance in society, but they also receive these improvements from qualified medical professionals, regardless of their ability to pay.
Please contact Jennifer at [email protected] for more information.