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How you can save a child from a lifetime of shame

Imagine what it is like to be called worthless simply because of how you look. That was Eugenie's reality (pictured at the right). Her childhood in Rwanda was likely very different than yours. She was born with a cleft lip, which made it difficult to speak and eat. Her parents died when she was young and she was forced to beg and sleep on the streets. Eugenie never attended school and lived as an outcast. People said she looked like an animal.

Her story is not unlike that of so many other children born with a facial deformity. She lived a miserable life until the generosity of strangers changed her future forever. Eugenie was taken in by a woman in her community who heard that Operation Smile, a worldwide children's medical charity, was bringing a medical team to Rwanda to perform free operations. Operation Smile is able to provide free reconstructive surgeries to children worldwide because of the generosity of donors - you too can help.

Eugenie travelled 12 hours by bus and foot to the medical mission site to be screened for the surgery. At 14 years of age, this was the first time she'd seen a doctor. At first the outlook seemed dire; she had a fever and was not in healthy condition for surgery. But after a week on antibiotics, the doctors said she was ready.

After enduring a lifetime of poor health and torment, in less than an hour, the surgery was a success. Thanks to a team of medical professionals - all whom volunteer their time - and generous donations from people like you, Operation Smile helped give Eugenie a future that is now full of hope and optimism.

You can help make a difference in a child's life today

An Operation Smile surgery takes as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $240. In only a few moments, a child's life is transformed. Tragically, most of the 200,000 children worldwide who are born with a cleft lip or cleft palate each year can never afford the surgery they need.

Your support can help transform lives. Learn more about how Operation Smile uses your donation to help provide free surgeries to children in some of the most remote regions around the world.

Since 1982, Operation Smile has changed the lives of more than 160,000 children and young adults in more than 60 countries. The organization's mission is to help ensure all children born with a cleft lip or cleft palate have the opportunity to be healed and lead healthier, more productive lives.

  • In 2010 alone, Operation Smile helped more than 16,000 children through their country partners and international medical missions. In 2011, more than 17,000 surgeries are planned.

  • Operation Smile has more than 5,000 credentialed medical volunteers from 76 countries. These volunteers apply global standards of safety and hygiene to all procedures.

  • Operation Smile trains local medical professionals and donates crucial equipment and supplies to help provide infrastructure for year-round treatment and lay the groundwork for long-term self-sufficiency.

  • All children, even those who are turned away, get a full pediatric medical evaluation, often for the first time in their lives.

Every 3 minutes a child is born with a cleft condition. One in 10 children born with a cleft will die before their first birthday. For those in developing countries, corrective surgery is often not available. Your donation can make a difference for these children in need. Please consider donating now.

Sponsored content provided by Operation Smile.