Message from the President

The Travels of Michelle

No expense or effort is too much when it’s the welfare of your child—is what Michelle’s parents were thinking as they boarded the overnight boat trip to the island of Palawan, Philippines, on August 10 of this year.

One year previously they had made the same arduous and expensive eleven-hour trip to seek treatment for their daughter’s bilateral cleft lip. Prior to that first trip they knew nothing about the organization that would treat their daughter except its name, ICSF. On that first occasion, they were so concerned about the surgery and its outcome that they brought along Michelle’s grandparents, perhaps as a show of force to the medical team, that they wanted their Michelle to receive good care. They were aware that in the Philippines there are many foreign volunteer medical teams performing free cleft palate missions and that quality is not always a priority—but rather numbers. They had seen the results of the 45-minute surgeries that other children had received at the hands of the foreign teams, and they wanted better for their Michelle.

Michelle before first surgery by ICSF

They didn’t know it prior to Michelle’s first surgery in 2018, but they had come into the hands of exactly the right medical team. The ICSF team took five hours performing Michelle’s first surgery in 2018, which was much longer than what most Filipino children receive for treatment of a bilateral cleft lip. It wasn’t until after that surgery, when they saw the results of Michelle’s lip repair and the aftercare delivered by the team, that her parents breathed a sigh of relief and knew they had found the right organization to care for their Michelle. Furthermore, the ICSF team reimbursed the family for the long and rather expensive trip, a courtesy extended to ICSF’s patients--made possible by ICSF’s generous donors.

Michelle, one year after cleft lip surgery and prior to cleft palate surgery by ICSF

As Michelle and her parents boarded the boat for this year’s surgery in August, the feeling was much different than the previous year. They knew the eleven-hour trip would take them to a medical team that would treat their daughter with painstaking care and that they would not suffer financially for making the trip.

On August 14, ICSF repaired Michelle’s cleft palate, a crucial step in her being able to develop normal speech. The healing of the palate was followed closely by the ICSF team for five days, after which the family was discharged to go home, their anxiety for their daughter’s future relieved, and having been fully reimbursed for their travel expenses. As we said goodbye to the family with their beaming smiles, I thought of our donors far away and all they make possible. Into my mind came the words once again; “everyone was born to smile.”

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

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