GOL - LA has made a huge impact on the lives of countless numbers of children, families, government, and medical professionals as well in this tiny country of El Salvador. The extraordinary dedication and leadership of it's President Brenda Small towards this children is an inspiration. I have been a witness from day one of this tremendously successful program that has provided hope where there was only despair. GOL - LA not only provides the life saving surgeries to the children, but has also gone beyond the walls of the hospital to ensure their quality of life by creating a follow up program, placing them in a nutritional program, all school age children must attend classes, and parents are given vocational training to support their families
Last year, my high school students held numerous fundraisers from car washes to lollipop sales to raise $42,000 to support the tremendous efforts of Gift of Life Los Angeles in El Salvador. I, personally, had the opportunity to go to San Salvador to meet with the pediatric cardiac surgeons, the families and the children who would die without the extraordinary work of Brenda Small and Gift of Life. In total, we sponsored several children to receive open heart surgery in various hospitals within the Unites States as well as helped support a medical mission at Bloom Hospital in San Salvador.
This is why the Gift of Life's approach is so SINGULAR. It is not simply about providing these children with life-saving heart surgery and walking away. The organization identifies the individual needs of the family and helps to meet them in order to ensure the long-term health of the child. These programs include free dental care, a nutritional network and, in some cases utilizing the extensive power of Rotary, the rebuilding of destroyed homes. It is this holistic approach to each individual child and family that makes the Gift of Life incredibly successful.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the goal of Gift of Life is to create and foster a long-term sustainable pediatric cardiac surgery program obviating the need for outside help in just five years from the Our Hearts Are in program's onset. They do this by sponsoring numerous medical missions per year that specifically serve to train the nurses and doctors in the pre- and post-surgical care of these special patients. In this way, Gift of Life lifts a nation to ensure the survival of all of their children in need. It is this macroscopic perspective that makes me the most proud to be affiliated with and work for the Gift of Life Los Angeles.