By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
Operation Smile, based in Guadalajara, has been active in Mexico for ten years. You can learn more about it on www.operationsmile.org for local news, and add “.mx” for their international news.
A little baby girl was sent to the Tepehua Free Clinic, having been rejected with sympathy from all the local Clinics... they could not help her. Baby Karla was born with a cleft palette. Mother Ana Cecilia begged for help, and Baby Karla stole the hearts of the volunteers at Tepehua. Months went by with visits to the doctor to bring Karla’s weight up. Thank you to Dra. Angelica of the Maskaras Clinic and the tenderness of LuLu in GoLab who gave their services pro-bono. Karla is now almost a year old.
The Shriners Hospital in Tijuana finally accepted Karla for the operation, but couldn’t fly her there until March. Then Operation Smile stepped in through one of its founders, Ruben Pettersson, of Rotary Ajijic. Karla had the operation on Thursday, Feb. 18th in Guadalajara.
This author had the honour of being there at Operation Smile to watch the proceedings. We were escorted down to the ‘scrub’ room to literally strip and put on scrubs. The operation took three hours. As they were bringing Baby Karla out of the operation room to be taken to her mother, who had been waiting hours for her baby, another honour as the baby was placed in this author’s arms. Not considering myself at all spiritual, I was touched by something intangible, a moment in time that stood still in a quiet I have never felt before. With a nurse trailing behind me with the drip, and my out-sized scrubs, I carried this precious life to the surgery lift, and the door opened to the ring of faces waiting. The electric moment when mother held her baby and we all shuffled to the ‘care’ room, where Karla and Ana Cecilia were to spend the night, before walking out the door to a new life.
We were all touched by a miracle that day, but it was engineered by the intervention of doctors from all over the world who spend two weeks every year using their skills to change the lives of so many. That day alone they operated on 117 babies. 117 Mothers walked through the doors with their hearts breaking with happiness. Karla will be in the care of Operation Smile until she is 18 years of age. Next year she will have the palette operation, then years after that her teeth will need realignment.
The Tepehua Community Clinic will closely monitor Karla, and will be the keeper of any donations that come in to be held for whatever medical expenses Ana Cecilia will have in the future.
Support Operation Smile if you can. Visit their operation on the web site. Not just Baby Karla was given a new lease on her life, but think of the thousands of children all over the world who are touched by the miracle called Operation Smile.
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING
Column: Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.