The organization where I intern at, Alliance for Smiles, fixes cleft lip and palate anomaly problems by sending surgical teams to various underserved areas such as China, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar for two-week missions. These teams are composed of 15 medical volunteers as well as 5 non-medical volunteers who cooperate with local medical practitioners to communicate on medical procedures and to give some follow-up care.
Follow-up treatment such as dental treatment (i.e. dental extractions and fluoride treatment), speech therapy, and psychological counseling is done through providing permanent treatment centers to care for those who have received surgery. These treatment centers take into consideration that because cleft patients require ongoing treatment, this would be a big financial burden on disadvantaged families. Therefore, these treatment centers address the time and funding issues as well as those of expertise and treatment so that cleft patients can recover fully.
On the mission side, medical staff such as plastic surgeons, pediatricians, and dentists are needed as well as non-medical staff such as photographers, sterilizers, and translators.
However, those working at the office in San Francisco are very important for making these missions possible in the first place. For example, they are responsible for program services, medical supply shipments, management and expenses, and fundraising guidance (which requires as expected a lot of networking as well as fresh ideas). Time management skills/multitasking, people skills, clear communication, hard work, and dedication are key to accomplishing these tasks. An example of how the organization tries to grow is implementing a relatively new program, which is the pre-med international internship program with a fee. Additionally, designing and managing the website as well as expanding its social media presence are important daily tasks for the organization.
Overall, the organization does a lot to brighten children’s smiles as it reached a milestone of finishing its 6000th surgery. I am so fortunate to be a part of a team that selflessly gives back, reaching many more to come. On a related note, I will be traveling with my CEO to San Jose this week to talk at a rotary club to spread awareness of the organization and share with others how life-changing this work is.
On a lighter note, this past weekend my fellow Pitt interns and I traveled to Palo Alto to visit the famed Stanford University.
It was also my first time riding the Caltrain, which is San Francisco’s big ol’ two-deck train to take you any place far and exotic. The seats were very comfortable (although the table was a bit narrow) and I enjoyed some nice sprawling views of Daly City, San Mateo, Redwood City, and so much more. The downside is that it takes close to four hours to get there and back and the heat was a bit suffocating down South. But anyways, it was a very rewarding strolling beneath towering palms and literally breaths away from leaping fountains as we explored the rich history of Stanford. Onwards!
(Seriously though, the question of the century is how does Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning compare with Stanford’s Hoover Tower???)