I had the pleasure of speaking with a young volunteer, Tomás Tavares, who is a very motivated person from the Dona Filipa de Lencastre school in Lisbon.
The grade 10 student has been on a mission with fellow students from his school to help children get free cleft surgery and access to medical care through Operation Smile.
Operation Smile is a “global non-profit surgical organization, founded in 1982, which improves the health and dignity of patients living with cleft lip and cleft palate in low and middle income countries.” Operation Smile has “embraced and cultivated youth volunteerism around the world, to raise awareness, raise funds and empower young leaders to create positive change.”
I told Tomás Tavares about the initiative and what his school has done to have such a positive impact. Tomás told me that he is “the treasurer of the Operation Smile club that I started at the beginning of this year and that the club is made up of two adults and seven students”. He also told me that “I and my friends are dedicated to helping others and they started out by fundraising for Operation Smile’s Sending Hope campaign. The campaign provided hygiene products and meals to families in Nicaragua who have been particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. “
The fundraiser was a huge success in which “they raised an extraordinary € 2,000 which provided over 20,000 meals to families around the world”. He told me that he “was surprised at how much we managed to raise in three days and that it was such a rewarding experience, especially with the way the whole student community and their parents came together to make a Don”. Tomás also told me that “helping others is an incredible feeling, especially knowing that all the money we have raised has allowed families to feed and heal themselves”. Tomás assured me that they “do not plan to lose this momentum and we will continue to raise funds every two months, in order to change the lives of children”. His club plans to organize a party or a sports tournament to raise funds for this important cause.
In addition, Tomás went out of his way to persuade others to join his mission and told me that he really wanted to keep their club alive when he left for college. The club has made a conscious effort to educate the youngest about Operation Smile’s life-saving slit surgeries and how their help can make all the difference in helping children “breathe, eat, speak and speak better.” live a life of better quality and of confidence ”. He also told me that he “enjoys volunteering for Operation Smile so much that I will continue to volunteer once I go to college to study economics because I think it is so important. to give of my time to a good cause “.
For more information on Operation Smile, please see www.operationsmile.org or check out @operationsmile on social media.