I just recently returned back to the US from Guatemala, where I lived for most of the summer. For part of the time, I stayed with my friend, Lauren, a teacher at Wisdom & Grace Christian School. Since I was staying with her, I was able to attend school with her each day, a treat for me, to spend my days with Guatemalan grade schoolers! From helping teach classes to attending singing competitions, I was able to spend each day at Wisdom and Grace in the best ways possible! This part of my trip will always bring with it some of my most favorite memories ever.
|Here I am with my friends Genesis and Steysi|
While living in Guatemala, I realized how many people I was coming in contact with needed access to better healthcare. Whether this meant they were in need of easy, simple solutions to their health problems or whether they had serious issues like diseases or severe illnesses, so, so many people were living with issues and going untreated.
One day, I met Valeska, a second grader. She was celebrating her eighth birthday that day and had the cutest, brightest smile. After telling Lauren just how cute I thought Valeska was, Lauren proceeded to tell me how she had recently had surgery for a cleft lip. Previously, Valeska was so shy and embarrassed about her situation that she would never speak or even smile. Once she had the surgery, she was no longer embarrassed and wanted to show the whole school her beautiful smile. It was so touching to me personally to hear about Valeska's story, because I just can't imagine having to go through life being so self conscious that I wouldn't even want to speak.
One of the companies that I found out about that works directly with those affected is called Operation Smile. Operation Smile works in over sixty countries around the world to help children with cleft palates, but they work extensively in Guatemala. I think it's so amazing that there are companies out there like Operation Smile that can give so many children hope in an otherwise hopeless situation and that over 220,000 free surgeries have been performed worldwide.
|Here is Valeska on her 8th birthday, showing me her Bible story coloring page!|
And, another perk is, if you're a college student like me, there's great companies out there like Campus Book Rentals that donate a percentage of each sale to Operation Smile, too, so you can get great book rental deals all the while helping out a great cause! Or, you can even be a volunteer and travel the world with Operation Smile and help out with the program.
I just felt so passionately excited about Operation Smile and what they stand for, especially since I have the personal connection of knowing Valeska, and I just thought that by sharing this story with you too, you would be excited by the work that companies around the world are doing to bring hope!