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Changing faces with a Smile Part 2 -a real life fairy tale #talita

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Published on Jun 15, 2013

Last year, I was able to return to Brazil with Operation Smile . I look forward to sharing the second part of Talita's uplifting story with you now.. A little girl who shows us how life should be lived....

As I get ready for another mission with Operation Smile, my 18th and this time to Ethiopia.., I find myself reflecting on how miraculous it is that each medical mission brings strangers from different countries and cultures together in the interest of helping children in need. In an increasingly mad world , it's a ray of hope that the world can still make sense. That perhaps the best thing we can do is to help one another.

Each unique adventure I see the local medical staff empowered to take care of their own, helped by their neighbours from a world away extending a hand. To stand shoulder to shoulder to feel the burden, and to share the pain. Oh. And the wonderfully addictive joy of changing the lives of another soul.

I am grateful for the path that my life has followed and recognize the strange mix of faith and serendipity that has guided me to work with Operation Smile. It's wonderful to love what you do. And I love changing faces.. and smiles — smiles like Talita's.

I remember clearly walking past her that day two years ago in Fortaleza, Brazil. I was drawn to her shy mischievous grin and befriended the doll she hid behind. It was the best way I knew to meet the girl she really wanted to be.

I remember those ninety or so minutes in the operating room, trying to create the smile I knew belonged to her. Like a gardener pushing soil around a seedling. Or an artist struggling with those final brush strokes.

And I remember the next day...

After an operation, parents and loved ones are truly grateful for the surgery their child has received, while many children don't want to know you. They don't yet understand what you have done. In fact, most glare at you with newfound suspicion as they nurse the temporary wounds you have inflicted on them — wounds that are necessary to give them a beautiful new smile.

Not Talita.

She was sitting in her chair. Bright. Content. Wondering what the world would bring her that day, seemingly oblivious of what had happened the day before.

And what a lovely surprise would come her way. As the video camera I was holding turned and a pretty little girl smiled back, her big brown eyes said it all: "Hey, is that me?"

The answer to her prayers. Her coin in the wishing well. Her dream come true.. I LOVED sharing that day with her.

But the job was only half done. Her palate was still open and it needed to be repaired so she could talk without fear or frustration. So she could go to school. So she could grow and blossom...

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