Gentle and smiling Edward Sarpong hails from Agogo in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Qualified for 8 years, Edward has been a nurse volunteer since April 2017 supporting 4 medical missions in Ho and Koforidua in Ghana and one in China. His first mission to Ethiopia in March 2019 was during the Surgical Rotation led by Per Hall, UK volunteer surgeon.
When asked why he volunteered for Operation Smile, Edward said “I was working as a paediatric nurse and came across many cleft children in the ward. One teenage parent brought in a child with a cleft lip and palate who died on my shift and I was so upset that wanted to find a way to bring hope to these children and their mothers. My research led me to Operation Smile.”
After his BLS course and credentialing by Operation Smile, Edward feels that “the exposure to different nurses from different countries gives me an opportunity to keep learning from them. Operation Smile is really touching lives, not only of the patients but the healthcare systems too. Change is happening all over the world because of them. The knowledge we gain is being shared on our return home. As Africans, we are learning how to change the lives of our people and through our volunteering for Operation Smile, we can give back to our country, through service to our community.”
Ghana now leads its own local missions. For Edward, “its rewarding to be part of the Ghanaian team which manage surgical missions across the nation, as we find and treat children and adults with cleft, so in need.”
Like all our volunteers, Edward has many heart rendering stories to tell. On his first mission, he “went to the patient shelter and met a mother who had been told she had given birth to a lizard. This mother kept her child hidden for over a year, never taking her outside, afraid of reactions. She was accused of adultery and was told that her child was a curse from the gods. Her marriage broke down and she even thought of killing her child. But she did not and she loved her child despite everything”. Edward went on to say, “that through her tears, this mother said she could now rebuild her life and her child’s and that the cleft operation given by Operation Smile had changed their lives forever”.
These experiences have “made me want to volunteer with Operation Smile whenever they ask me, wherever they send me”.
Operation Smile depends on volunteer network from many nations. Like Edward, they are the ones that continually change lives across the globe and we remain grateful for all they do.