Student Volunteer: Kaz Shigeta
School: International School of Bangkok (ISB)
Mission: Ubon Ratchathani province, 2013
My first mission to Ubon Rachathani moved me. I’ve heard many stories from many people about the Operation Smile Medical mission, but I never thought that it would be like this. On the first day of our 3-day mission, it was screening day. Kids and babies were crying and screaming while waiting their turn to get screened for surgery. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to deal with it. I had never heard so many screaming babies at onetime. Parents looked very stresses and worried as they waited their turns. As a student volunteer, my job on the first day was to entertain the kids and babies so that their parents can register without too much pressure. So I started blowing bubbles. Bubbles seemed to calm even the loudest babies. One baby in particular made my day. He was about a year old, with a cleft lip and cleft palate. As I blew the bubbles he immediately stopped crying and stared at the bubbles wide-eyed. He then cracked a small smile with his gaped mouth as he started swatting at the bubbles. At that moment, he seemed like the happiest one year old in the room. He was smiling from his heart, and soon, he’ll be able to crack a smile on his face.
The second day was surgery day. It truly astonished me, when the doctors precisely detached the lip from the nose of a 5-year-old cleft lip patient and put it all back together flawlessly. I could not believe what I was seeing! It was truly amazing. After the hour or so in the operating room, the kid was wheeled to the recovery room where his mother was waiting. The look she had on her face after seeing her boy after surgery was indescribable. The magic that the doctors perform on these kids is truly amazing. My first mission made me want to contribute more to the cause. Knowing that the funds raised in my school club goes to give kids hope makes me truly happy. I would definitely love to go on another medical mission with Operation Smile.