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Public Statements

Honoring Operation Smile On It's 25th Anniversary

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING OPERATION SMILE ON ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY -- (House of Representatives - July 16, 2007)


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 208, which recognizes the 25th anniversary of the founding of Operation Smile, a private nonprofit founded by Dr. and Mrs. William Magee of Virginia in 1982.

Madam Speaker, the volunteers for Operation Smile provide reconstructive surgery and other health care to needy children in the United States, as well as in developing countries. They particularly help children with a cleft lip or cleft palate, congenital birth defects that occur as frequently as one in every 600 births.

Clefts can cause multiple physical and mental health problems for children and adults, including feeding and speech difficulties, ear infections that can lead to deafness, and low self-esteem, as well as alienation from others.

Children worldwide need not, and must not, suffer from these health problems simply because they were born with clefts. Surgery in infancy, adolescence or young adulthood can correct clefts and avert resulting medical and psychological difficulties.

Sadly, many families who seek medical care and surgery for children born with clefts are turned away, both in the United States and abroad, due to lack of funds or shortages of medically trained professionals who can provide the care that these children urgently need.

Fortunately, the outstanding medical professionals at Operation Smile have, for a quarter of a century, volunteered their time and effort to help save these children and their families. They have provided free reconstructive surgeries to over 100,000 children and young adults in this country and worldwide. They educate and train thousands of health care professionals across the globe. Just as importantly, they are developing future generations of volunteers for this noble cause.

Young men and women at more than 450 Operation Smile student associations in the United States and abroad are fund-raising, building awareness and encouraging their fellow students to take charge, to lead and to volunteer their time to help others. In all of these ways, these volunteers demonstrate the potential that volunteers and nonprofits have to change lives, to tackle global problems and to significantly improve the world around them.

Because of their 25 years of service, many children and young adults who were born with cleft lip or palate can look at themselves in the mirror with pride, and so can volunteers at Operation Smile.

This resolution, offered by my good friend and colleague from Virginia (Mrs. Drake) sends the right message by recognizing and encouraging outstanding volunteers and achievements in the private and the nonprofit sector.

Therefore, Madam Speaker, I urge the House to adopt this resolution, H. Res. 208.


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