Message from the President
I would like to pay a special tribute to some often-neglected but crucial players in the ICSF story; the parents of the children we treat.
To say that parents ‘care’ about their children is a gross understatement. Most parents would do anything within and even beyond their means to provide for the needs of their children--and when they cannot meet their children’s needs, they suffer anguish and grief.
Parents in poor countries are inherently less able to meet the needs of their children, especially children with facial and other deformities. When a child with a deformity is born into a poor family in a poor country, a grieving process begins, accompanied by anxiety, and as time passes, a hopeless despair. Many parents, acting in what they feel is the best interest of their child, hide the child from society and keep the child from attending school. We have encountered many children in this regretful situation.
I have witnessed, upon the medical team’s arrival, what could only be called a melee - a free for all, as mothers and fathers scramble for a place in line hoping that surgery will be scheduled for their child. I witnessed two Vietnamese mothers actually fighting for a place in line, underscoring the passion they have about their children’s welfare. Thus, the parents are an indispensable link between their children and ICSF. Simply stated, without the parents, there would be very few children coming to our missions--and very few children treated.
On a recent trip to China, a mother illustrated exactly how parents feel when help arrives. After surgery was performed for her teenage daughter and the sleeping child had been delivered into her awaiting bed, the mother proceeded through a crowd seeking me out. As she approached I could see tears streaming down her cheeks. She came up to me, grabbed both of my hands with hers and began a long oration in her native tongue. She spoke loudly, in a trembling voice and intermittently squeezed my hands with nearly every word she spoke. After this poignant scene, I asked one of my Chinese friends to give me an idea of what the woman said. I was told that the mother was thanking me for treating her child and that she had waited many years for this moment.
Although the tearful mother didn’t know it, she was also squeezing the hands of ICSF’s donors, the people behind the scenes who made it possible for us to change the life of her daughter and other children, some of whom have waited for many years.
May each one of you take pleasure and comfort in knowing that you were instrumental in relieving the Chinese mother’s despair. Again, thank you for your support and joining us in our belief that “Everyone Was Born to Smile’.
W. Geoff Williams, M.D.