Three of my life goals are: (1) to help others and society to be better; (2) to travel the world; and (3) to open my eyes and improve myself spiritually. When my full-time work failed to put me on the path towards achieving those goals and I realized that money isn’t the answer to all questions, I said goodbye to that world to pursue my dreams.
Traveling to faraway places or disaster areas with friends is one of my passions. Therefore, I was very excited to learn about Operation Smile Thailand and its many volunteer opportunities. Initially, I translated patient stories for the foundation. After working on the stories about helping kids with cleft lips and palates, I decided to participate in the foundation’s medical missions.
My first mission was in Sisaket. I was responsible for managing patient traffic after medical check-ups at the admission point on screening day and then interviewing the patients’ parents or guardians. It was an enlightening experience. I was overwhelmed with many feelings. I was in distress, saddened for the kids who hadn’t been able to live normal lives and the difficulties their families because they were very poor. At the same time, I was elated that these patients were given the opportunity to lead new lives, and by the many volunteers who devoted their time to help them without expecting anything in return.
The following year I went on a mission to Mae Hong Son. Among my tasks were filling out patients’ information on screening day and interviewing them and their families with the objective to write up their stories. The patients were not all Thais. They were also from hill tribes or ethnic groups or Burmese. I used interpreters to interview them and staff members of the Burma Children Medical Fund. I learned that that some of the children were disdained by their relatives or even their own parents. Some were ridiculed just because they had facial deformities. Some were abandoned at birth. I also discovered that some families lived in the forest and that most of them had no clue how to take care of children with cleft lip and cleft palate. Fortunately, voluntary organizations, NGOs and refugee camps took them to the hospital for surgeries provided by the Operation Smile Foundation, giving them hope to lead better lives.
Photos taken while on mission and stories written about the experience that I posted on social media have helped to raise funds from donors and spread the word about this great cause. When I saw those kids’ photos after surgery, my heart was filled with joy. It was so gratifying to witness not only the bright smiles on their faces, but also the happy faces of their families. I believe that happiness from giving and compassion are engraved on one’s heart and are more valuable than superficial physical and mental happiness. Moreover, I find that enabling others to benefit from opportunities available is very rewarding. It brings waves after waves of happiness.
This is all food for the soul I’m searching for. I intend to continue with this type of work as long as I am able.
Thank you Operation Smile Thailand and all the volunteers for helping others.