Anton Crone: Operation Smile Madagascar
A guest post by Anton Crone, Executive Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi Cape Town
Last week I found myself on an island in the Indian Ocean – and spent most of my time in hospital. But first impressions count and if hospitals are anything to go by, Antananarivo, Madagascar is a magical place.
I’ve seen no gunshot, stabbing or minibus victims, only a broken arm and a smokers’ cough that belonged to one of the surgeons. She smokes a pack a day and drinks more coffee than is healthy but her hands are as steady as a rock. They have to be if you are operating on about 8 patients a day over five full days.
Most of the patients I’ve seen in the hospital are smiling, happy characters, made more remarkable by the fact that over 400 of them have cleft lips or palates.
Thankfully I was not on the slab. I was there to document the Operation Smile mission, their fifth in this country, and one of the things that make this remarkable is that they mended about 180 patients in five days.
Seventy-five volunteers from 11 different countries made up the crew of surgeons, dentists, nurses, psychologists, speech therapists, coordinators, book keepers and run-abouts. They screened over 400 cases in 2 days, selected the 180 patients who were most in need and then scrubbed in, and so did I, but I wielded wielding a camera, not a scalpel.
I’ve shared the stories of some of the patients and their families, like Raissa and her mother, and an older girl, Vaviosa, who travelled for two days with her father to be here.
I’ve met some wonderful characters like the amazing Oriarivelo-Thiery who at 3 is on his way to the Premier League after being discovered by the multi-talented Italian dentist cum football scout, Gian-Luca.
I’ve also seen a little of Tana (short-hand for Antananarivo) as the capital is affectionately known and I’ve put together a few photo’s of people I’ve met in the couple of blocks near the hospital. It seems one doesn’t need a magician to get a smile from Malagasies.
To learn more about Operation Smile, Tana, and the interesting stuff that can be found in operating rooms and hospital corridors, click here.