The Operation “Whisper’s Hope” is Dr. Geoff Williams’ personal reach out program for children with cleft lip /palate problem. It is the hope that whispers to parents of children with disabilities; children who have become the object of ridicule and teasing.
Dr. Geoff Williams, MD, is an American plastic surgeon, Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He is the founder and president of the International Children Surgical Foundation (ICSF), a non- profit an d charitable foundation whose purpose is to provide free reconstructive surgery at the highest quality possible for poor children in developing countries. He has been coming once a year to Ozamiz City since 2012 to perform cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries on children of Community of Hope. In the States, his secretary is his own mother, who is now 87 years old. Dr. Williams comes with a Team of Volunteer doctors and nurses. It was through Dr. Gonzalo Ditching and Dr. Mario Judith that Dr. Geoff Williams came to Community of Hope in Ozamiz City.
Community of Hope is a charitable and non-government organization (NGO) under the administration of the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban. It takes care of the children and youngsters with physical and intellectual disabilities. Presently it is being supported from charity.
The surgery is performed at MHARS-RRTH, a government hospital with some Hospital Staff assisting. The Rotary Club North as sponsor takes care of the visiting Medical Team. Sometimes after the surgery, Speech Therapy follows for those who need it. More than 100 deformities of children have been corrected from 2012 to 2015.
At the start, it was difficult for parents to have their children undergo surgery but seeing the results of those operated on, many came to Community of Hope to register their children much ahead of time.
Several mothers related their ordeals about their physically deformed children before the surgery.
One mother said: “when my husband saw his child with cleft lip, he left us”. He could not cope with the problem. She went on, “what would be his reaction if he sees his handsome son now?”
Another mother said that if their next child was going to be with the same deformity, her husband had said he’ll have the child floating on the river. When she got pregnant again, she was scared, so she came to Community of Hope for help when her time to deliver came. The Staff of Community of Hope brought her to the birthing place and took care of her until the child was born. Luckily, the child was not deformed.
At the farewell party for Dr. Geoff Williams and his Team, the parents came with their children to express their gratitude. One father clasping his son was trying to get my attention. When finally I saw him, he showed me the child. I asked if the child was one of those operated on? He said Yes. I exclaimed “Wow, no Scar”. He got so excited. No wonder, he was trying to show me his son. He said, “Sister, my son is four years old and so far, our only child.
Dr. Geoff Williams “Whisper of Hope” is not only Whispering Hope as the song goes but actualizing the hope and spreading joy.
By: Sr. Teresita Bernad,SSC was missioned in Chile for many years and is presently missioned in the Philippines.