A child in the Philippines before cleft lip surgery.

BOSTON — A respected Massachusetts-based non-profit organization that dispatches teams of surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists and nurses to the most remote and underprivileged communities in the Philippines and other Third World countries, has launched a project where Good Samaritans can sponsor one child for $300 for repair of cleft and other facial deformities.

“Buy A Smile for A Child” was launched recently by the Medical Missions for Children, Inc. (MMFC) to benefit more children who need surgical repair of cleft lip and palate deformities, burn injuries, microtia (absence of the outer ear) and head/neck tumors. 

MMFC sends 15 to 20 surgical and dental missions each year to the Philippines and other poor regions in Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Peru, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ukraine and China.

Since its inception over 21 years ago, MMFC has provided over 200 missions worldwide and has operated on over 20,000 children and young adults.

MMFC has also provided dental care to over 50,000 patients.

For several years now, MMFC has been sending two annual missions to the Philippines, one to Angeles City, Pampanga and one to Leyte province in the Visayas.

Tracey O’Keefe, a registered nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and one of the volunteers at MMFC’s mission in Angeles City last February, said she has committed to returning to the Philippines annually.

“The Filipinos are the warmest, most hospitable culture of people I have had the pleasure to work with,” said O’Keefe, who has been with MMFC for the past five years.

“The city of Angeles, the history and most of all the people have left a lasting impression on me.”

After cleft lip surgery.

This year, due to the staggering need, MMFC is adding two additional sites in the Philippines — Batangas and Davao City.

The Global Health Observatory (GHO) reports that in the Philippines, there is a backlog of approximately 170,000 patients born with a cleft of the lip or palate deformity who have never received the required care.

GHO also reports that every year in the Philippines, an additional 4,000 children are born with a cleft of the lip or palate deformity.

In impoverished parts of the world, the negative effects of being born with facial deformities are enormous, as health care is scarce and far beyond the means of the poor.

Malnutrition, failure to thrive, immune deficiencies, and chronic infections haunt normal childhood development, at times proving fatal.

Children born with these tragic deformities are often ostracized and, worse, abandoned.

MMFC envisions a world in which no human being suffers physically or emotionally from a repairable congenital deformity or injury, according to Janette Barber of SiriusXM’s Rosie Radio and MMFC’s ambassador at large.

“For $300 and a one-hour surgery, MMFC can transform the life of an impoverished child born with a congenital facial deformity, and give him or her a reason to smile, literally,” says Barber.

“These children are given the opportunity to return to school and become productive members of their communities.”

MMFC is a well-established and well-respected charity that uses its donor dollars efficiently.

As its most recent audited financial statement demonstrates, 93% of every dollar goes directly to mission expenses and only 7% of the donated money is used for overhead costs.

It is also committed to facilitating the transfer of medical education, knowledge and recent innovations to the local medical communities it serves.

While on mission, it provides professional training to the local physicians, surgeons and nurses, and leave behind necessary equipment and supplies.

It has outfitted numerous operating rooms, most recently at Gitwe Hospital in Rwanda, and the entire dental suites, including the clinic in Quito, Ecuador.

Dental specialists, nutritionists and speech pathologists also participate in MMFC’s surgical missions.

Its volunteers hail from the most respected hospitals and teaching institutions in the United States and abroad.

All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

To help and learn more about MMFC, call its executive director, Elizabeth Desmarais, at 978.387.2749, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit

Registered nurse Tracey O’Keefe with a young patient.

Children in Angeles City, Pampanga seeking surgery.


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