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Review for Free to Smile Foundation Inc, Columbus, OH, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I was a late and unexpected addition to the Free to Smile February 2012 Guatemala Cleft and Dental Mission team. What I experienced was one of the most emotionally draining and truly satisfying experiences of my life. Having never been exposed first hand to this type of organization or this type of trip it was mind boggling to me the efficiency at which it operated. Imagine this, 25 people coming from 2 different countries, 7 different states and 14 different cities leaving their egos (if they had any to begin with)at the airline gate and immediately functioning as 1 cohesive unit with 1 common goal - changing lives for the better.
I had not intended to immediately take another trip with Free to Smile and I must confess that the reason was purely a selfish one. My 2012 trip was such an emotional high for me that I feared it could not be duplicated and any less of an experience would dampen that high I so cherished. With a little hesitation I accepted their invitation to join the Free to Smile 2013 Cleft Mission Trip to Uspantan, Quiche, Guatemala. I learned many new things about Free to Smile on this trip. I learned that when you sign on with Free to Smile, it doesn't matter where you go or who goes with you, the mission always remains the same – change lives and make beautiful smiles. I learned that you will always find grateful, loving people who hold so much hope in their hearts. I learned that you will always be teamed with people who share in their selfless compassion to make someone else’s life better. I learned that for those of us who are a little bit selfish, the opportunity to feel emotionally and spiritually rejuvenated is ever present. I learned that no matter what adversity or challenges come their way (and on this trip there were a few), Free to Smile excels at adapting and overcoming, always keeping their focus on the care of the patients and their families.
My role provides me the ability to meet the families and get an understanding of the hopes that many of them have traveled so far with. I also benefit from being able to see and share in the joy and appreciation they feel when they first see the new life and opportunity that their child has been given. It is a moment that is truly beyond description and I’m sorry but I must say, best witnessed firsthand. My selfish fears are now gone and I am a witness and I am a believer to the incredible work performed by the Free to Smile Foundation. I will forever be at their call!

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Role:  Volunteer