Cusco, Peru | May 15-22, 2010

This was’s 8th annual, consecutive mission to Cusco, Peru and it was a success on every level. Despite the challenge of working at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet, volunteer team members screened 108 patients and performed a total of 68 procedures, 32 of which were cleft lip and/or palate surgeries. The dental team performed 91 procedures including 6 under general anesthesia. worked closely in training and education with the local surgeons who participated in all aspects of our mission and whoparticipated in screening, pre and post operative care and the surgical procedures themselves. We worked side by side and trained local OR and PACU nurses. Our Speech Therapist and Nutritionist provided one-on-one training to the hospital staff and directly with the patients’ families. Thank you to our volunteer team members, our local coordinators Ani Forsythe, Monica and Rafael Ferrer, our kind donors and our generous mission sponsors,  The Smile Train and The Children of Peru Foundation.

Estrella Del Carmen Olivera Menacho, age 5  (cleft lip/palate)

Estrella, an only child, lives with her mother and grandfather. After she was born, the father abandoned the family and never paid child support; the grandfather has served as a father figure since she was little. Estrella loves school – she is very social with her classmates. Her mother is worried because a lot of people cannot understand what she says because of her cleft palate. She’s been in speech therapy for a while, which has really helped her. Last year, her mom heard about the program, and she brought her in for treatment. This year, she is getting her second surgery. “I am very grateful for what everyone has done for us; I want to help in anyway possible and thank everyone for their love and care,” says Estrella’s mom.

Luis Carlos “Lucas” Vera Infantas, age 12 (microtia)

Luis Carlos, also known as Lucas, is the first born in his family. He has a little brother who is a month old. He lives with both his parents and brother. The family owns a restaurant in Cusco. Lucas goes to a school with people who have special needs. He cannot go to a normal school in Cusco because of his long hair. He lets his hair grow because he doesn’t want people to see his ear; he is afraid people will make fun of him. He loves to play soccer in his spare time. Microtias are a recurrent malformation in the family: Lucas, his cousin, his mother, his grandpa, and his great great grandma all have ear malformations. This year, he is being brought in for surgery (1st stage microtia). His mother, Maria Isabel, is also being treated. “Next year, I want to help the people of; what they are doing is absolutely incredible,” says Isabel.

Luciano one year ago, age 6 mos., prior to first cleft surgery

Luciano this year, age 1 1/2, before his cleft palate surgery

Sebastian this year, age 1 1/2, before his cleft lip surgery

Luciano & Sebastian Ripa, 1 ½ years old twins (cleft lip/palate)

Luciano and Sebastian are identical twins. Luciano underwent surgery last year for his bilateral cleft lip, and he was brought in again this year for his cleft palate. The parents heard about the program in  March 2009, and brought the twins in for treatment. Last year, Sebastian couldn’t be operated on because of his cough; but this  year he was a safe and viable candidate for surgery. Their mother, who is a teacher, is so happy for her twins’ surgeries. Both parents work a lot, so their uncle lives with the family to take care of the twins. “Luciano is the calm one. Sebastian is always running around and playing, he has a lot of enrgy,” says the uncle. The family lives 8 hours away from Cusco; they came here to EsSalud Hospital specifically for the surgery. returns to EsSalud Hospital in Cusco, Peru next May 20, 2011. If you are inspired by the stories of these children, or the tireless dedication of our volunteer surgeons, dentists, doctors and nurses, please consider making a contribution. We are only able to accomplish what we do and help to change the lives of these children, because of your financial support. We accept donations online at or by telephone at 508-697-5821. is a 501(3)(c) charitable organization and donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.