Student Volunteer: Kacee Jones
School: International School of Bangkok (ISB)
Mission: Ubon Ratchathani province, 2013
When we traveled to Ubon for our operation smile medical mission, we weren’t just watching surgeries and making stupid faces to get a little boy or girl to laugh. We were ensuring a family that the process didn’t have to be scary or stressful at all. We occupied children who were scared and got their mind switched from thoughts of pain and be prodded by medical specialists, to thoughts of a playmate to walk them through and make them laugh along the way.
While I was in Ubon there really are no words to describe feelings that happened. There was one little girl that really made the experience real. At first we all were shy and didn’t really know what we were doing. I wandered over to a small girl sitting in a nervous mothers lap. She had a cleft lip that reached her nose. After showing her the wonders of a slinky her mother put her hand on the little girls head and said “Non.” Over time I played with her and got her laughing to a point where she fell over. It was time for us to switch and go watch surgeries.
After watching the transformations of lips, palates and even a hand I wandered to the waiting room to play with kids in Pre-op. When I walked in there was about 5 kids in white scrubs waiting to be forever changed, and there was Non. Her face was red and her eyes filled with tears. The second she saw me her face froze. A big smile came on her face and she threw her hands up and down. I played with more until it was her turn. She was wheeled into the operation room and I followed her rolling bed. After she was asleep I entered the room and saw the face that had once been laughing and screaming. Time passed and it was over. I saw her wheeled over to the recovery room. She was a different person.
That moment, when I saw her complete transformation, was the highlight of my trip. It was extremely real and intense being there and witnessing things that didn’t really cross your mind, but when they cross your eyes things change. Overall the operation smile trip is a completely amazing experience that I will remember for a long time. I would recommend to any and everyone.