Tagged: Health

The Gift of a Smile

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I met Bao Zoma, mother of four and grandmother of seven while taking a bike ride through the countryside. In September 2015 Bao Zoma brought her middle grandchild Sandra up with me to the mission in Tana. Now that Sandra has a beautiful smile, Bao Zoma is driven to find more children in need of new smiles. She has become a spokesperson for Operation Smile in the countryside where radios do not reach and many cannot read the posters that are taped at the health huts. When asked where her motivation to find more patients that suffer from cleft lip and palate comes from, she responds: “My grandchild once suffered from cleft lip, my grandchild Sandra was teased, dropped out of school, and was a shy girl. Now I can’t keep her in the house, she has many friends, and is constantly smiling. She is beautiful. I would like to give that gift, the gift of smiling to others like Sandra.”

Bao Zoma, recently recruited two other patients for the upcoming April Mission here in Madagascar. She walked 8 km, crossed a river and hiked another 2 km, to reach these patients, a young boy by the name of Gino and a young girl named Nordine. I am happy to say they will be joining me on the April Mission. Thank you Bao Zoma, for being not only a spokesperson for Operation Smile but an amazing grandmother.

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A Brave Man

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“I am now the best looking man”

Lezoma, 33 years old, ostracized from his community for being different. Since a young age he was teased for his different face. Children would scream and point fingers at him, calling him names. At 11 years old he decided to drop out of school and work the rice fields. He found peace in the solitude of the rice fields, no one calling him names, no one yelling mean slurs at him. He worked as a farmer and helped out during the various fruit picking seasons to make a living.

My first encounter with Lezoma was in January 2014. I heard there was a young man who had a double cleft lip who lived in a small village off the main road called, Tsaravinany. I took my chances and biked out to the village, before no time I crossed Lezoma on the path. He carried bundles of banana leaves and two large jackfruits which hung from thick piece of wood. I greeted him in local dialect. He looked at me surprised, even chuckled a little at the sight of a foreigner speaking local tongue. I asked if we could talk, that I had something important I wanted to ask him. I explained about the mission, Operation Smile was arriving in April to the capital, Tana, and I would love to have him join me. His face brightened. He immediately answered, “You can fix this!” and pointed to the large gaps in his face. I explained that if he trusts me and would like to come up on to Tana with me I would be leaving the first week of April and I would pick him up on the main road. He agreed.

Lezoma walked into the operating room barefoot, nervous yet calm. I was present for the entire surgery and held his hand through his fear. Lezoma’s surgery went amazing, his before and after pictures were tremendous. His courageous spirit was a highlight of the mission.

6 months after we had returned from Tana, I biked back to Tsaravinany, the small village lined with rice fields and banana trees. To my surprise, young kids whom I had never seen before, ran up to me screaming, “Lezoma! Lezoma!”. My heart beat accelerated as I wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad thing that they image3 image2 image1-2were screaming his name. I arrived at a small coffee seller, and there sat Lezoma. His dark brown eyes looked back at me, and small wrinkled formed on the sides as he smiled. “Charlotte! Mandroso!” he welcomed me to sit. I ordered a small coffee with sugar cane syrup. “How are you? How is everything? Tell me about you.” I requested. He stood up, “Charlotte, I have a problem! A big problem!” My heart dropped, thoughts raced, what could it be, an infection? Another health problem? “ I am so good looking now, all the ladies in town want me!” He chuckled, that familiar chuckle I had heard when first meeting him. I exclaimed “ OH MY! Yes you are a good looking man!”. We exchanged smiles. Later that afternoon I headed back home, as I turned around he waved once more, and said “Thank you, thank you.”

Her smile changed.

This is Landrycia.

A couple months ago her grandmother reached out to me having heard that I brought children to an Operation Smile mission in Tana. I greeted her and her grandchild and explained that I would not be able to attend the mission held in Tamatave yet if she was prepared to travel on her own I would ensure that she would make it safely and be housed. I coordinated with the Catholic Church in Tamatave and paid this woman and her grandchildren fare up to the city.

Two months passed by and no sign of her or her grandchild. With no cell phone it was impossible to reach out to her. I didn’t know if she made it safe. I didn’t know whether her grandchild had been a candidate for surgery ( suffering from cleft lip).

At 8 months she looked tiny, thin, weak, and tired. Her mother had a difficult time breast feeding her because of the cleft lip and had been ostracized by members of her village for not properly caring for her child, thus leaving the child in the care of the grandmother.

Today, a young girl ( the one in the photograph showed up at my house. I responded “Akory!” (Hello!”) my mind turned she looked familiar. Then a few seconds later her grandmother came around the corner, “charlotteeyy! Efa sitrana Landrycia!” The grandmother yelled ” she is healed!” I stared in awe. This young girl was no longer weak, no longer thin, no longer without hope. She stood in front of me with beautiful big round eyes, healthy as can be barely a scar in sight.

Thank you Operation Smile.

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Olga

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After 10 days of emotions, hard work, and constant interpretation, I am honored to say that I have worked with some of the most selfless and inspirational individuals. The staff, doctors, and nurses of CRMF, Caring Response Madagascar Foundation, are phenomenal. I would love to share a small story of how I had the ability to witness their selfless actions.
“Thursday morning the team heads out to Hopitaly Be in Tamatave. Excited to meet new faces, we all give each other a round of hugs. One of the doctors grabs my arm and says ‘Hey we have to go check out this patient, can you join to interpret for us please.’ I nod and follow her down the corridor of the hospital into a small room.
There lays a small framed woman, no more than 18 years old, her eyes swollen and yellow, her shortness of breath evoking pain. The doctor makes her way by her side pulling me along. ‘Ask her what hurts? What’s going on? Find out some history for me.” I proceed to have a conversation with this young woman. She is a new mother of a one month old boy, she had complications in her birth which led to a C-section. When the C-section was done they slit open her bowel. The doctors who had done the surgery attempted to sow it back and staple her stomach shut. One month later she still lays on a bed, unable to hold her newborn, unable to find comfort due to a gaping 3 inch deep 4 inch long hole in her abdomen. At first glance the CRMF doctor took a deep breath and stood silently. Two minutes later, the doctor looked at me, looked at the young woman laying in front of her, and looked at the one month old baby squirming near by, ” Tell her we will operate on her tomorrow, tell her not to worry about the medication, the anesthesia, or any expenses, we will take care of it.”
The next day we went into surgery, myself and another PCV, Banaz, witnessed the preparation and surgery. I became surprised at how passion to help others drove these doctors to save this woman’s life. They treated her with dignity with respect and with care. They spoke to her family after the surgery was done and ensured that they understood how to change the bandages appropriately.
Olga, 18 years old now has a chance at life. Her new born baby boy Manuelo is still squirming by her side and her family is ever so thankful for these doctors selfless work.

MY MALARIA HEROINE

STOMP OUT MALARIA volaHEROINE!

“SMALL minds discuss people, AVERAGE minds discuss events, GREAT minds discuss ideas.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Vola is an 8th grade English Teacher in the small village of Mahanoro on the East Coast of Madagascar, one of the most Malaria prone regions of the island.

When I met my counterpart, Vola, her smile lit up the room. Her charismatic personality, positive energy, and drive to make a difference in her community, makes her the ideal heroine in my eyes. Vola, a teacher at the local middle school, has been a Stomp Out Malaria advocate since I have moved to site. Her creativity and love for educating has been a breath of fresh air to work with. Together we have started an 2 English Clubs at both Middle Schools and 1 High School Club focusing on Malaria awareness and prevention in the village of Mahanoro. Each club has an average of 100 students who participate weekly and have been educated with the Night Watch Curriculum. Last week we held a Dream Banner session at our club and over 175 students attended to “draw out the dreams” and hang them underneath their nets. Vola, teaches over 300 students and every morning she asks, “Did you sleep under a net last night?”. She goes above and beyond to ensure that her students understand the importance of properly hanging their nets and teaching them how to properly care for it.

Vola’s enthusiasm to help Peace Corps and USAID in its fight against Malaria stems from a long history with the disease. She explained to me that when she grew up her neighbors and family members were not properly educated about prevention methods or net usage. Instead of protecting their children from Malaria and sleeping under mosquito nets, individuals were using nets to fish shrimp or cover their crops. She mentioned that it became routine to see children under 5 years old as well as her younger siblings being sent to the hospital and treated for malaria. She stated, “Ever since I remember Malaria has been here in Mahanoro, but today I want to change that, today I want to make sure every child and family is safe against Malaria. Today we stomp Malaria!”

In lieu of Malaria Awareness Month, we are planning a Malaria Festival, inviting all the schools and community members to join. We are collaborating with the local health workers from 10 different countryside villages and inviting them to help in the demonstrations at the festival. We will be educating about Malaria and prevention methods through an all-day exhibition and hands on workshops! In addition, we will be holding a Malaria Mural art contest. Students will enter a Malaria Drawing representing prevention methods and healthy living practices, the winner will have his/her drawing made into a mural in the center of town. We are also holding a dance contest and singing contest to the very popular Malagasy song “Tazo Moka” by Jerry Marcoss. The songs lyrics speak directly about prevention methods, sleeping under a net, properly caring for your net, and ACT Malaria Medicine. Lastly, we will be having a soccer tournament and motivating students to participate in the Grassroots Soccer Malaria Drills. We have already received a great interest from the community and 4 different schools have signed up both girls and boys teams to participate in the tournament!

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK and ***LIKE*** the picture to nominate her as a malaria hero!

 

 https://www.facebook.com/StompOutMalaria/photos/a.733279610045903.1073741831.208478415859361/733374093369788/?type=1&theater