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Who We Are
Operation Smile in the World
Operation Smile is a worldwide children’s medical charity whose network of global volunteers is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults. It was founded in 1982 in Norfolk (USA), and has provided free surgery and related health care to more than 160 000 patients born with cleft lips and/or cleft palates and other facial deformities all over the world. The organization has a presence in more than 60 countries, with 12 in Africa.
In each country that we work, our goal is to create self-sustainable programs that provide free surgical care as well as education and training. We ensure every patient treated by Operation Smile benefits from the same state-of-the-art equipment, procedures and highly trained, credentialed medical volunteers, no matter where they live.
Operation Smile Mission in Kenya
Since inception in Kenya in 1987, has provided free surgical treatment to more than 8.000 patients born with cleft lips and/or cleft palates and other facial deformities all over the country, yet the need in Kenya is great. Approximately one in 500 to 700 children is born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate globally.
With a population of 41 million, taking into account the above statistics, the small population who might be able to afford expensive corrective surgery, and those Kenyans already helped by Operation Smile over the last 25 years and similar organizations, there is still a likelihood that over 20,000 Kenyans suffer from cleft lips and cleft palates.
Children suffering from clefts often face numerous challenges to their health and survival.
Facial clefts are not just a cosmetic problem:
1 in 10 children born with a cleft dies
before reaching their first birthday.
Those that survive, grow up with significant malnutrition, speech abnormalities, breathing problems, many have burst ear drums due to excess air and even more debilitating, these patients due to stigma are normally outcast, thought of as evil and forced to live a life of shame and isolation.
Children born with clefts are often denied the opportunity to attend school and are likely to miss key opportunities for further development. Read more about Clefts
Our mission principle is: No child, in any community, should have to live with the pain and isolation caused by a correctable facial deformity. However, in order to build capacity and create self-sustainability in the countries that we work in, Operation Smile provides free education and training to medical professionals.