Or Hello from Standish Foundation for Children (SF4C) as we return from an incredible surgical mission in Cambodia! This month, volunteers from Standish Foundation for Children (SF4C) traveled to Cambodia to support children having surgery for microtia (ear deformities), cleft lip, and cleft palate.

Our SF4C team, including team physician, Dr. Arash Baboff, President Andie Standish, and Global Programs Manager, Bobbi-Jo Pansier, collaborated with Smile Cambodia and Northwest Medical volunteers to bring support to the children and families of Cambodia throughout their surgical journey. Without the support of our generous donors, and hard work of Smile Cambodia and Northwest Medical Volunteers, these life-changing surgeries would not have been possible.

The week kicked off with Family Day, the first-ever education and support event for patients with Microtia, cleft lips, and cleft palates and their families. The event fostered an opportunity for connection, support, and belonging, expanding their personal networks of support through sharing stories and hearing each others’ experiences. Families said they benefited from the event by learning more about Microtia, feeling more confident about surgery and making new connections with other families.

A few young children said they were scared about their surgery that week and after the event felt confident and excited to have their surgery. Several parents and patients spoke in front of the group talking about the challenges and the wonderful outcomes of their surgeries.”

-Team Member, Smile Cambodia

Each day of surgeries, SF4C facilitated learning sessions as well as therapeutic play in a dedicated space for children and families. Every child and family came into this space to learn, play, and forget about the amount of time spent waiting for their surgery to begin. The space was intentionally designed to make children feel comfortable, safe to express themselves, and less afraid; donations of items like bubbles and blocks, dolls and medical play kits, not only made waiting for surgery easier, but filled the area with laughter and smiles.

In addition to fostering friendship and connection, in the play and learning space, children and families had the opportunity to meet with Child Life Specialists and other volunteers who facilitated age appropriate preparation and education for each individual child before they went into the operating room.

Together, the doctors, nurses, child life specialists, and medical volunteers not only cared for each child’s medical needs but ensured their emotional well being and developmental needs were nurtured and supported. In one week, there were a total of 55 successful surgeries completed with 22 being microtia specific surgeries.

Thank you to all of our wonderful donors for supporting us in making this surgical mission of 2024 a HUGE success! Because of you, we are positively impacting the lives of children and families not just in Cambodia, but around the world!