Rotary International

Rotary Youth Services Programs

Faces of Hope 


Faces of Hope

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Jolene Bortz, RC of Oakland Sunrise was established in 2005 to deliver cleft lip and palate corrective surgeries for children in Guatemala. This annual program has changed and improved the lives of hundreds of children since its inception.

A cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip between a newborn's mouth and nose. A cleft palate causes the roof of a newborn's mouth not to join completely. Millions of children around the world suffer from this common birth defect. Corrective surgery for clefts is vital not only because of the social stigma that comes with a facial deformity but also because children with clefts are subject to malnutrition because they often have difficulty in eating and swallowing properly. Accessing the simple, inexpensive surgery is often the only barrier a child and their family faces to living a normal, healthy life.

Annually our group of medical professionals and volunteers travel to Antigua, Guatemala to work. Over the past 5 years, we have watched beautiful children emerge from their former masks. Manny Macias, RC of Sunnyvale The parents cry because of the new future their child is receiving. Our team members cry because they cannot believe the gift they are a part of giving.

In addition to our medical team and hospital volunteers, we have a 3rd group working at our convalescent facility. Casa de Fe is where the patients' families can stay during their time with us. Our dedicated Casa Team, feed, entertain, and care for the more than 100 children and families who stay with us. The children participate in art activities pre and post operatively to provide distraction from fear or pain. The children make puppets and paper hats, color in coloring books, play card games and just be kids rather than patients.

Fernando Zazueta, RC of San Jose All team members perform a function as valuable as the next, from the most seasoned surgeon to the youngest member playing games with the children.

Sharing in our success are the many groups and organizations that support Faces of Hope. Twenty-five different Rotary clubs, The Rotary Foundation, the Rotary District 5170, Physicians for Peace, Smile Train, MAP international, Wrap A Smile Quilters and the Palo Alto Surgecenter all share in our success.

On the last day of our mission, the medical team individually "releases" each patient from the medical care of Faces of Hope. Although they are released from our care, they are not released from our hearts, nor are we released from theirs. Their faces are changed for good, and forever. But it is the look on the faces of our team members that truly reflect the Rose Johnson, RC of San Leandro Faces of Hope.

Every so often, a project occurs that inspires the imagination of what a humanitarian can do and who they can affect. You are invited to join partners who will bring one of the most extraordinary gifts to a small corner of our world community. We are actively seeking both individual or organizational co-sponsors for our mission. We'd love to get you involved. If you have interest in changing lives please contact the mission directors or to give immediately click on the Donate button to make a secure online PayPal donation (Funds are gathered through the Rotary District 5170 Foundation, a 501C-3 in the USA.)

Information for all prospective volunteers is available from the mission directors. Please contact: Rose Johnson, Rotary Club of San Leandro, or Jolene Bortz, Rotary Club of Oakland Sunrise.