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Operation Restore Hope has delivered more than 100 “Hope” packages this past Christmas to families whose children were waiting for cleft lip or palate surgery in 2020.
ORHA volunteers were saddened that our 2020 Mission had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 safety precautions and of course closed borders. If we were saddened, many of our patients and their families were devastated.
Our Filipino Plastic Surgeon volunteers had already held our pre-mission screening of both new and existing patients and had more than 70 cases approved for surgery and 50 more for further review. When the mission was cancelled, many of them, especially those new to the ORHA family felt that their one hope had been lost. Hope, however, is never lost. Where there is life; there is hope.
What makes Operation Restore Hope Australia unique among overseas charities performing cleft lip and palate surgeries in the Philippines is that we maintain contact with our patients throughout the year as well as having other programs that run throughout the year. Contact with our patients is maintained in various ways: directly with our ORHA contacts in Manila, via social media and messaging apps and via email & cell phone. In reaching out to them and in their sharing their struggles and triumphs with ORHA, the charity is better able to respond to and hopefully anticipate their needs.
These year round programs meant that even during the pandemic, ORHA directors and volunteers on the ground in Manila have been able to provide appropriate follow up for our patients. Contact during the lockdowns caused by the pandemic with our patients, their families and community workers highlighted the complex and worsening situations many were facing and the increasing want and need they were facing. Those who were already living hand to mouth were suffering and a lack of work and funds was causing hunger and a deterioration in the ability to maintain decent levels of hygiene.
In response to this need, ORHA funded Christmas Hope Packages to over 100 families who were a part of our 2019 mission and families who were scheduled and missed out on the cancelled 2020 mission. These packs contained food (rice, tinned meat & fish, beans, etc) hygiene products (hand sanitiser, masks, soap, shampoo etc) and school supplies (notebooks, pencils etc) as well as some ORHA bags and of course a cuddly kangaroo for the little patient!
Thanks to all the volunteers who spent days ordering, receiving and repacking over a thousand kilos of rice, hundreds of boxes of groceries and supplies and for putting these packages together. Thanks to Director Ben Mead & for being a part of the impetus of this project and allowing The Mead Foundation offices to be the logistical headquarters. Special thanks to Jobelle Yap for coordinating all the processes, communications and volunteers and thanks to Ed Tibayan and Don Don Bautista of Lyrwin Tours for delivering this much needed aid to our families.
Take a moment to look at the many pictures of comfort and joy in the YouTube link below that came from knowing that there would be food on the table for weeks to come , that they themselves and their surroundings could be cleaned and that their child had a toy at Christmas.
ORHA will never forget you!