Operation Restore Hope (ORH) is teaming up with the Las Piñas City local government agencies and Las Piñas City Medical Center (LPCMC) to raise awareness about cleft lip and palate and ORH’s next mission to LPCMC next May. Together they are getting the word out into the community by distributing posters and flyers to barangay offices, health centers, day care centers, women’s livelihood centers and public schools. In all over 800 posters and flyers are being positioned and delivered into the Las Piñas area.
Pictured above with ORH Director Ben Mead and ORH administrator Jobelle Yap are Perry Maronilla (O.R. Nurse Supervisor of Las Piñas City Medical Center), Dr. Ferdie Eusebio (City Health Officer), Rey Balagulan (City Administrator), Rose Bantug (City Engineer), Nida Lagrisola (City Planning Officer), Susan Bombita (City Treasurer), Willie Gaerlan (BPLO Chief), Atty. Gerald Beloso (General Services Officer ), and Henry Medina (Former Councillor).
There is an important pre-screening for the mission being help on Saturday February 15 at Las Piñas City Medical Center at 8:00am. If you know a child with cleft lip or palate in the Las Piñas area, please make sure that they present to the hospital at this time to be assessed by the ORH medical team for possible inclusion in the mission if they are healthy and fit candidates for surgery.
Operation Restore Hope with the assistance of The Mill House Foundation and Mao & Ophee De Vera (members of our partner The Philippine Australian Medical Association – PAMA) have been sponsoring Amethyst and Sai Sai now for five years. Both these little girls have oromandibular hypogenesis syndrome, meaning that they were born not only with incomplete arms and legs but also with incomplete sealed jaws. The condition is very rare, so it is unusual to have two little girls not too far apart in age in one program. Having one another and meeting and sharing experiences for them and their families at Operation Restore Hope screenings and clinics with our partner the Mijares Gurango Craniofacial Foundation has given them a small but mighty support group.
The girls will continue to require support as they grow as they need to have their prosthetic legs updated regularly and will have to continue to conquer special medical needs around breathing, feeding and the development of their mandibular area as well as their gross and fine motor skills. What is most gratifying is that both girls are in school, socialising and age appropriate or better in literacy and numeracy.
Sai Sai in 2015 Aged 5
Sai Sai in 2019 Aged 9
Sai Sai is now nine years old. Not only is she walking and moving confidently on her prosthetic legs but she is breathing well without a tracheostomy and feeding normally. In fact, her favourite food is Jollibee burger steak. She is at the top of her class and winning academic medals as shown in her picture above in her school uniform.
Amethyst in 2015 Aged 3
Amethyst in 2019 Aged 7
Amethyst is now seven years old. Amethyst had difficulty and discomfort adapting to her prosthetic legs but is able to ambulate now on her limbs. She still requires a tracheostomy after having had pneumonia a few years ago. She is eating normally, socialising wonderfully and enjoying school. She loves to draw and is the artist of the charity’s caterpillar note cards.
Both girls are absolute inspirations to all the volunteers at Operation Restore Hope who have had the privilege to get to know them over time. Most people would find any one of the challenges they face to be a burden, but they and their families face these challenges with immense courage, never wasting a moment on self-pity. They are both true heroes and we look forward to sharing in their victories for years to come.
Dr Hodgkinson was the invited guest speaker at the recent 27th anniversary function of the Philippine-Australian Medical Association (PAMA). The night which was resplendent with a colourful 1920’s theme was a celebration of 27 years of achievements by PAMA and their medical missions to the Philippines as well as a fundraiser for their major mission next February to the mountains of Luzon.
There were presentations by PAMA President Dr Roger Fabian, the new Philippine Consul General, the Honourable Ezzedin Tago and of course Dr Hodgkinson. Dr Hodgkinson spoke not only about Operation Restore Hope (ORH) and all it’s achievements over 25 years in the Philippines but also of the critical role played by the charity’s partners and collaborators like PAMA. These collaborations make it possible not only for ORH to work throughout the year but for all of us to widen our reach and increase our capacity to help the less fortunate. For example, PAMA identified two children last year during their Nueva Ecija mission who could not be operated on in a mission environment: one with a lumbosacral meningocele and the other with a nasofrontal meningocele. With combined resources from Operation Restore Hope and PAMA, we were able to get these patients to Manila to be operated on by ORH partner Dr Taps Gurango of the Mijares Gurango Craniofacial Foundation. Both patients are now well and back home in Nueva Ecija.
Other collaborations have been the sharing of expertise and networking. Through PAMA, ORH is fortunate to have Ugnayan Ng Pahinungod, the charity outreach arm of the University of the Philippines (UP) and Philippine General Hospital (PGH) led by the highly committed and talented plastic surgeon Dr Eric Talens as their on the ground partner for missions. This networking and sharing of contacts has also included medical personnel, biomedical engineers and more.
ORH wants to thank PAMA for their years of friendship and support and hope that we can continue to work together to help each other fulfill our mutual goal to use our talents and efforts to help the less fortunate people of the Philippines who need medical intervention and who without charitable assistance would go untreated.
Congratulations PAMA on 27 Years! We look forward to working together for the next 27.
Dr Darryl Hodgkinson, Founder and Director and his wife Katherine, also a Director of the charity, have written a new book rich in images celebrating and commemorating 25 years of Operation Restore Hope. Whilst the book has some history of the charity, the focus is on its current missions at Las Piñas City Medical Center and collaboration with the Mijares Gurango Craniofacial Foundation operating out of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.
Special thanks for this book go to photographer Andrea Francolini who generously gave his time and pictures to help the charity tell its story. Thanks also to graphic designer Astrid Wehling for sharing her talent and the many hours of hard work spent making this book so beautiful.
“Operation Restore Hope – 25 Years of Restoring Children’s Smiles” is available for purchase from the charity for $50 excluding shipping and handling. To purchase your copy, please contact the charity on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (02) 9362 7480.
Sincerest thanks to young William McKellar for raising awareness about Operation Restore Hope and the pivotal role that his grandfather Professor Geoff McKellar made to the charity. William who is in the fourth grade at the Australian International School in Singapore was asked to give a presentation about a superhero in his family. He chose his grandfather who was a talented oral and maxillofacial surgeon who with his partner Dr Ann Collins gave many years of their talents as volunteer surgeons and mission leaders for Operation Restore Hope at Lapu Lapu District Hospital in Mactan, Cebu. We are thrilled that Geoff’s efforts continued to be recognised and that his spirit lives on in such a wonderful young man like William.
Excerpt from William’s school newsletter:
In our current unit of Inquiry, 40S has been working on ‘Distribution of Wealth. I decided to sahre the story about a charity Operation Restore Hope, my grnadpa helped start. My grnadpa apret his adulthood training to be the best surgeon and in his spare time teaching new surgeons. 20 Years ago he began the charity where he and others performed free facial surgeries in places of pverty such as the Philippines and India. These surgeries still happen every year and will continue.
William McKellar 40S
Hats off to William for doing his part to make a difference and for honouring his grandfather.