Uplift Internationale aims to give a life-changing gift to children with facial deformities by mending faces... one child at a time.
Since 1989, Uplift Internationale (UI), a Colorado-incorporated nonprofit humanitarian organization has sponsored an annual mission trip to render surgical and adjunctive care to indigent children in the rural Philippines born with facial deformities, primarily clefts of the lip and palate.
The care is provided by healthcare professionals and outreach personnel who donate their time and expertise, and fund 100% of their travel, meal and lodging expenses.
Children receive the care without cost to the impoverished families and with minimal burden to the host hospitals. This humanitarian mission - named Operation Taghoy (a Filipino word for whistle) - helps to change a life of shame and ridicule to one of hope and promise.
The Philippines is the focus of the activity because of the significant deficits in public healthcare and the high occurrence of clefts of the lip and palate. In particular:
* Municipal hospitals in the Philippines, institutions mandated to provide care to the impoverished, are typically ill-funded, poorly-equipped and understaffed.
* While 70% of Filipinos reside in rural areas, less than 40% of the total hospital beds in the country are located there, thus depriving a majority of the citizens adequate healthcare.
* Nearly 1 of 5 Filipinos is born, lives and dies without receiving basic medical care and more than 80% are medically indigent.
* 1 out of every 350 live births in the Philippines has a facial deformity, more than twice the incidence noted in developing countries.
- More than 250,000 of the 89+ million inhabitants are estimated to have been born with this defect with more than 20,000 added to the pool annually.
I first volunteered for UI merely 10 years ago as a way to give back to my Filipino roots. I was acquainted with UI through an email I received looking for volunteers at the local hospital I worked at. I quickly became addicted to the wonderful life changing work UI did. I stayed as a volunteer until 2016 when I got a dream call from UI asking if I had any interest in the Executive Director role. I have been fulfilling my dream ever since giving back to my Filipino roots and providing truly life changing surgical care. I am truly blessed to work alongside so many selfless volunteers that devote their time and energy to assure our Filipino children are well cared for. I can't even call my role a job because it's just too inspiring and fun! I am ecstatic to be a part of our upcoming 30th Annual Mission and thrilled to announce we have served over 1800 children... mending faces... one child at a time.