Volunteering can be very rewarding. We get to connect with other people, give our time to help a cause and learn more about ourselves and others. Meeting people and families with stories of perseverance, hard work and dedication is an important part of this experience. This was the case for the volunteers who participated in the Operation Smile medical brigade on April 22nd in Esteli, Nicaragua, where more than 100 children and adults were evaluated for cleft lip and palate surgeries.
Many families traveled from remote communities for hours in order to arrive early at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Esteli to receive medical evaluations from the Operation Smile doctors. Among these people we found the Perez Hernandez family, who travelled for over three hours from the small community El Varillal. Mario Perez and Lidia Hernandez are the parents of three children, 10 years old Ashley Perez, six years old Cindy Junieth Perez, and 5 years old Mario Jose Perez, all born with cleft lip. Mario and Lidia began attending these medical brigades since 2005 with their oldest daughter, Ashley, who received her first cleft lip operation when she was just a newborn baby. Since then, they travel every year so that their children can have a chance to receive these surgeries.
Thanks to CISA Exportadora and the Seeds for Progress Foundation, the Perez family is one of many families that are able to attend these medical brigades and that receive support throughout the process. Mario says that ever since Ashley’s first surgery, CISA and the Seeds for Progress Foundation have been with him and his family through it all. “CISA has always been with us and we will always be very grateful to them. They take us from our homes to the hospitals every year and give us support after the surgeries, making sure our children are able to go to their medical consultations”.
As we talked with Mario and Lidia, their daughter Ashley played with the rest of the children. They hope that she will be operated this time for small plastic surgery touch ups. Mario and Lidia are proud of the progress made by their children; they can now speak and eat better, something they were unable to do before the surgeries. Once all of their children’s surgeries are completed, they know their quality of life will improve, allowing them to have a better education. Giving up was never an option for them, they knew their hard work would finally pay off. They believe that the support from CISA and the Seeds for Progress Foundation is essential in their children’s growth. “We are forever grateful with CISA and the Foundation. I hope that our relationship will continue after the surgeries are over.”
It was inspiring to be a part of this day. The families’ stories show the perseverance and dedication they have. We were more than happy to volunteer with these brigades knowing that the lives of everyone who came will be benefitted in the future.