School on a mission with Operation Smile

Hout Bay International School International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) students Claire Rideout and Thireena Mudley had the opportunity to participate in an Operation Smile medical mission to Zomba, Malawi in April this year.

They were accompanied by their school teacher and Operation Smile student sponsor, Lucas Grant.

Operation Smile is a non-profit medical organisation which offers free cleft lip and cleft palette surgeries around the world. The Operation Smile team were able to perform 119 surgeries over the course of five days in Zomba with incredible results.

The student team mostly assisted the child life specialist whose job it is to educate the patients on what to expect inside the operating room and to provide a safe and relaxing environment before surgery.

The team also visited the patient accommodation where they gave educational talks on topics such as oral hygiene and nutrition as well as colouring and craft activities and a few competitive games of net-
ball.

The students were able to watch the surgeons and medical team perform an operation, learn-
ing a great deal about the medical profession in general and plastic surgery in particular.

“Malawi was incredible from
the people to the operations. One hundred and twenty one people were operated on, ranging in age from six months to 65 years,” Claire said. “We spent 10 days there with five days being surgery days. Thireena and I were privileged
to be able to watch several sur-
geries on patients we were following.

“This was an amazing experience with incredible people, whose lives were changed by just this one visit.

“This experience was life changing for us and those operated on.”