Mbombela Mission Final Report

Free Facial Reconstructive Surgery in South Africa

Mission: South Africa
Site: Mbombela / Mpumalanga
Date: 27 September to 7 October 2016
OSSA Program Coordinator: Itumeleng Ramano

Operation Smile, in conjunction with the National Department of Health, Rob Ferreira Hospital, and the Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Health, conducted its 10th mission in South Africa and its 4th mission in Mpumalanga. Over a period of 4 and a half days a team of local medical and non-medical volunteers from across South Africa all worked together to screen 60 patients and provided free reconstructive surgery to 44 children and adults from across South Africa and Swaziland.

The Medical Director of Rob Ferreira, Dr. Koete, along with the entire Rob Ferreira team were of invaluable help and welcomed the team with open arms and hearts, making our volunteers feel comfortable and at ease. Not only did the hospital donate the use of the hospital facilities and supplies, but countless employees volunteered their time to assist and share in the team’s work.

Operation Smile is committed to the creation of local self-sustainable programmes through capacity building and training by exposing host hospital staff to the essential surgical practices and training opportunities during missions. Operation Smile is committed to continued and sustained partnerships that affirm the principles of the Department of Health both at National and Provincial level partnerships and investment. The inclusion of local staff is testament to our commitment to provide volunteers with invaluable resources to not only empower them but also serves as a step towards programme sustainability.

Many of the patients came from outside Mbombela with a significant turn out from the Eastern Cape, Swaziland, Limpopo, Johannesburg and North West. These patients and family members together with the Operation Smile volunteers were provided shelter at Bundu Lodge. While our medical team worked tirelessly, their success would not have been possible without various volunteers from Woolworths, DHL, CIPLA and Metamorpha Church who worked daily to assist with translating, communicating and screening of patients on site. These volunteers helped to ensure that our patients knew where to be and at what time, that they were all well fed and also helped to direct patients to the correct people should they have any questions or queries.

The one week post-operative examinations were held on 5th of October 2016 and turned out to be a positive event as 44 of the patients returned, looking happy and pleased to face the world with their new smiles. Patients are aware of Operation Smile’s return in April 2017 for the six month assessment to determine what follow up care is needed. We will be conducting a traveling post-op so as to better reach the patients.

In addition to the surgical aspect of the mission Operation Smile volunteers worked together with the nurses of the Rob Ferreira pediatric ward to refurbish, paint and brighten up the ward. It was terrific to witness the involvement of both local volunteers and the inclusion of learners from the Rob Ferreira High School who got involved as well. These students visited the patient accommodation where they helped to create art installations that were subsequently hung in the ward.

The mission’s success must also be attributed to the persistence, dedication, and commitment of many parties. This includes our in-country hosts and volunteers, and our in-country financial and in-kind partners: The National Department of Health, Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Health, Rob Ferreira Hospital, CIPLA Miles for Smiles, DHL Global Forwarding, COGEF Group, Quivertree Publications, Ethicon, Woolworths, SPAR, Elizabeth Arden, GJ Hoffman, VW South Africa, The Stella and Paul Loewenstein Charitable and Educational Trust, CBN Africa, Growthpoint Properties, Nature Fresh, Continental Power, Bundu Lodge, Metamorpha Church, Detroit Spur Nelspruit, Spur Foundation, The Lion’s Club Nelspruit, RCL Foods, Ligwalagwala FM, City Bug, Kind 2 Hearing, Avis Car Rental, Food Lover’s Market, Mopani Pharmacy, Rotary Ann’s White River, and Greyhound Citiliner for all of their incredible support even from off site. In addition, there were many individuals, companies and groups that came together to serve, support, and ensure the comfort of our team and our patients. It truly was an incredible expression of giving back by an entire community of like-minded people.

In the end, the combination of experience and effort of the Operation Smile staff, the commitment of our South African volunteers, and the generosity and hospitality of the local community made for an incredibly successful mission. Together we were able to change the lives of many individuals, families and communities.

Total Number of Patients Screened 60
Total Number of Patients Operated On 44

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