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Deutsche volunteers bring smiles to Neijiang, China

June 2013 │ China

In continuing celebration of the tenth anniversary of Deutsche Bank Asia Foundation (DBAF) this year, a second volunteer exchange trip to was organised from June 19 to 25. 19 volunteers from five countries across Asia Pacific spent five long hectic days with Operation Smile on a medical mission in Neijiang, a prefecture-level city in Sichuan Province in southwest of China.

The medical mission, comprising international and local medical volunteers, was to provide specialised cleft lip and palate treatments to about 100 underprivileged children. The Deutsche Bank volunteers participated as non-medical volunteers, providing administrative and translation services to the medical team in a variety of functions from pre- to post-surgical procedures, including helping out in the operating theatre.

The week-long project was undertaken at the Dongxian District People’s Hospital. More than 230 patients and their families arrived on Day One for registration and screening, well exceeding the expected turnout of only 130. Patients were mainly children aged between three and ten. Most of the families travelled long and arduous journeys, with one family riding on a bus for four days, in order to bring their children for this treatment so they can be given an equal opportunity in life.

Our volunteers guided and assisted the patients through the thorough screening process. Each patient was examined by a pediatrician, anesthesiologist, plastic surgeon, dentist and speech therapist.

The day was hectic as the volunteers rushed to screen all the patients who came. Despite the first day of working together for both the medical and non-medical team, the group cooperated effectively and by 5pm, all the patients were registered and screened.

Those children who were able to undergo surgeries were announced at the end of Day One. They were subsequently admitted to the hospital’s wards for pre-surgical procedures.

Days Two to Five were designated for surgeries. Each morning started with a 7:30am briefing where the medical team highlighted emergency protocols and the key issues relevant to the day’s surgeries.  Six medical teams performed about 30 life-changing surgeries every day, reaching the hospital at 8 in the morning and staying till 10 at night, tirelessly helping the patients. 112 children's lives were changed within these few short days.

Although working for an average of 14 hours daily, all the volunteers felt the trip was well worth the effort. One commented, ""Tiring as the days were, the reward was in watching each post-op bed filled daily, as that meant a changed life for one family and hope for one person."

Our dedicated volunteers summed it up as “a humbling and heartwarming experience. It was such a rewarding moment to see the happy smiles on the children after the surgery”.

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Last Update: July 16, 2013
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