This week we celebrate National Volunteer Week by honoring those who help MAP achieve its mission around the world.
Whether it's the local group of regulars who pack MAP medicines and health supplies each month, or the thousands of medical missionaries who volunteer to help those in need around the world, volunteers come in all forms and are a vital part of our organization.
The Global Smile Foundation (GSF) is a shining example of medical missionary volunteers serving “the least of these.”
Founded over 30 years ago, GSF surgical repair volunteers assist patients throughout the developing world who suffer from congenital facial deformities. The vast majority are children with cleft lips and palates. GSF works with partner healthcare sites in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and India to provide life-changing surgeries using MAP medicines and supplies.
The GSF volunteers performing these surgeries are true miracle workers.
Because access to surgical care is rare in the countries GSF serves, the simple procedure to repair cleft is difficult to find. The consequences of untreated cleft lip or palate are devastating. Dads often leave the family, believing their child or their marriage, has been cursed; parents will abandon their infant in the hospital, unable to cope with the future the child will face.
Children with cleft are ostracized from society, unable to go to school or make friends. As adults, patients with cleft lips or palates have little chance of making a living.
GSF recently returned from a medical mission to Ecuador with one of their most successful trips in 31 years. Volunteers from the US working with local surgical fellows performed 127 surgeries using sutures provided by MAP International. Lives were changed for the better.
But the true miracle of this trip was who showed up to help. As the Director of GSF commented:
“The highlight of the trip was having so many of our patients from the 1990’s helping out as volunteers.”
Volunteers helping volunteers - paying it forward to help those in need.
Adults whose lives had been changed as children were now volunteering their time as translators, physician assistants, and counselors.
As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, let us celebrate the many reasons people volunteer their time, talent and treasure. For many, a life-changing gift they received years ago becomes a gift they now give to someone else.
Thank you to the volunteers of all types who help us achieve MAP's mission - we are grateful for all you do.