St. Andrews Students help create beautiful new smiles in “The Land of Smiles.”

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On Thursday 12th September six Year 13 students and 2 teachers began a journey that was to change their lives and the lives of over 80 children with cleft lips, cleft palates and serious burns in Ubon Ratchathani.

St Andrews International School has joined Operation Smile, a charity which has the support of very generous and talented surgeons who perform the necessary operations to return a smile to countless children’s faces, and their families.

St. Andrews students arrive with boxes of goodies for the children.St. Andrews students arrive with boxes of goodies for the children.

Operation Smile Thailand has reached out to the farthest corners of the Kingdom, with medical missions to Tak, Ubon Ratchathani, Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen, Saraburi, Chiang Mai, Nan, Nakhon Phanom, Chonburi, Yasothon, Amnat Chareon, Sisaket, Nakhon Srithammarat, Songkla, Yala, Samutsakorn, Kanchanaburi, Nonthaburi and Surin as well as medical missions to neighboring countries, Laos and Myanmar.

Did you know that:

* In as little as 60 minutes, one cleft lip surgery can change a child’s life forever.

* Approximately one in every 500 babies in Thailand is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate.

* Children with facial deformities who do not receive reconstructive surgery often have difficulty breathing, drinking, eating and speaking. As a result, many suffer from malnutrition, medical and psychological problems.

Students help to entertain children before their surgery.Students help to entertain children before their surgery.

The St Andrews students assisted in supporting the children and families. Some families had travelled huge distances just to find out if their child was eligible for surgery.  As the families arrived for assessment by the pediatric doctors, anesthesiologists and plastic surgeons the girls worked tirelessly to help relieve the stress of the process.

The following day the surgeries began. The students spent time with the children awaiting surgery and trying to alleviate the fear and provide support for the parents when the children emerged from their operations.

Students coming out of surgery.Students coming out of surgery.

It was an honor and a privilege to be asked to be involved in such a worthy cause; helping, in a minute way, to create a beautiful new smile in The Land of Smiles.

Christina Krause – Executive Director of Operation Smile commented on how helpful and supportive the students were on this mission, “I don’t think the students realized how much they helped playing with each patient both bringing laughter to the child and at the same time relieving the stress and anxiety for the parents. The girls proved that compassion knows no borders and a smile truly is a universal sign. Thank you!”