Message From the President

The worth of a Child

During our recent cleft lip/palate mission to the Philippines, I was out in public on a Sunday when a boy in the crowd caught my eye. It was obvious that he had had surgery for a cleft lip (although not by ICSF). The lip was drawn up on one side and scarring was severe. I worked my way over to the boy and his mother and started a conversation about the boy’s surgery. I asked the mother if she liked her son’s surgical result, to which she replied emphatically, “No!” She went on to say “I hope it can be redone.” I told the mother that we could redo the lip surgery but inwardly I was saddened, knowing that after the necessary removal of the extensive scar tissue, the result would not be nearly as good as if we had done the first surgery. The mother went on to say, “the surgeries were free but the surgeon did ten surgeries the day he operated on my son. He left town right after the surgeries and didn’t even remove the sutures—you can see the suture marks.”

It was obvious that the surgeon had viewed the boy as just another poor child who should feel lucky to get free surgery. I knew that the hastily performed surgery would negatively affect the boy’s life. I secretly wished he and his mother had found ICSF instead of the other group.

After encountering the boy and his mother, I wondered how the surgeon who repaired the boy’s cleft lip viewed his patients. The question came to mind: What is the value of the life of a child? Often, I hear this question answered by giving the number of hours the child will work in society throughout his or her life, or what he or she might potentially provide to society. Answering this question using socioeconomic terms, I think, is insufficient. I believe strongly that everyone was sent to this earth with a Divine purpose.

Note the drawn up left side of the lip with extensive scarring, including suture marks due to sutures not being moved after healing.

It doesn’t matter if a child is born into aristocracy or into the poorest of poor circumstances. He or she is a son or daughter of God and therefore has infinite worth---and infinite potential! It is with this belief in mind that I view each child that comes to our surgical missions. It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this message that we at ICSF do not do fast surgeries, in assembly-line fashion, as the boy in the photo had experienced. Those of you who know ICSF well know that we take hours for each child’s surgery, and only after careful planning.

To our donors and supporters, thank you for empowering us to provide the highest quality surgeries possible to these children, some of whom are from the poorest of poor circumstances. We know you would not want their socioeconomic backgrounds to negatively affect the quality of surgeries they receive. We know that you, along with the ICSF team, sincerely believe that ‘EVERYONE was born to smile’.

ICSF took three hours in creating the most beautiful lip possible for Shaheed. Sutures were removed early after surgery to prevent scarring. All of ICSF’s children receive this degree of attention

Dr. Geoff Williams
President, ICSF
P.O. Box 4594
Boise, Idaho 83711-4594
(409) 939-5759

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