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.
Through the eyes of an O.R. Nurse...
"You see these children come in, covering their faces with a towel, because society shames them for having something out of their control. After their surgery, you clean up the operating room, on the floor, a towel, the towel that hid so much embarrassment is now forgotten on the O.R. floor. There is a sense of freedom for these children and their families."
~Justin Raff, RN
Through the eyes of an Outreach Volunteer...
"The children are like a magnet! They pull at your heartstrings! They are beautiful, charming, beaming - The children that Uplift Internationale aims to help have cleft lips and cleft palates... These children tend to have psychological, social, eating, speech and/or dental problems. But the causation is not very clear.
Getting to know the children and the families just magnifies the desire to help them. Some of the children are so ostracized that they refuse to go to school rather than be bullied and teased. The children are so beautiful that the desire to help just grows and grows." - Cindy Pearce
"Wow is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of these kids in the Philippines! They are so respectful, so unassuming, so special! They brought such joy to my life in the short time I was there and especially taught me to be much more thankful for the things I have in life. They had so little but were so happy!" - Mary Sweeney
Through the eyes of a Photographer...
"Leading up to my first mission with UI, I really didn't know what to expect when I first arrived at the hospital as a photographer for the mission. As the week progressed, and I had the opportunity to interact with the patients, their families, the UI team, and our host rotary clubs it became clear that the work performed that week was going to have a lasting impact on the patients for the rest of their lives. As we discharged patients, I helped distribute before and after photos (after some technical challenges) and I was able to see the families overwhelmingly positive reactions, which is a memory that I will keep with me forever." ~Eric Duboys