A reason to smile

A reason to smile

A reason to smile 464 304 Dr Liezl du Toit

I just returned from an Operation Smile mission in Malawi.

As always after a mission- I orbit in a slightly different sphere for a few days.

Lots of retrospection, appreciation for colleagues who become friends in a short period of time. We were 75 people with one common goal- to bring smiles to our patients that before were ostracised and ridiculed.

The team is large, and every task has got expertise from all over the world.

Malawi is a beautiful country, the people are gentle and kind, and the children are gorgeous. They welcomed and accepted us without reserve.

One specific patient stays in my thoughts. She is beautiful, but with a cleft lip that she had for 19 years.

After the surgery was over (the adults get done under local anaesthesia, so they are awake for the procedure)- theatre personnel gathered around to see her reaction when she first saw herself in the mirror.

And as often is the case with adults- they just stare. No emotion, no smile. And then she looked up, searched for my face and looked at me with an intensity for what felt like a long time.

They escorted her out of the theatre complex and she looked dazed.

She was beautiful.