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Operation Smile Dominican Republic holds week-long volunteer training program
Published on February 14, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Volunteers in the skills training program in Santiago, Dominican Republic, taking place in partnership with ILAC. Photo: Carlos Rueda

SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic -- Operation Smile, an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for people in developing countries who are born with cleft conditions, teamed up with the Dominican Republic Institute of Latin American Concern (ILAC), a nonprofit organization that provides development opportunities for students and professionals in rural communities, to conduct a medical mission and volunteer skills training program, February 5 to 13 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

More than 45 volunteers, from medical and non-medical backgrounds, participated in this program that provides life-changing surgeries to at least 25 patients. Volunteers participating in the training are recruited locally based on their previous involvement with Operation Smile. This is part of the organization’s commitment to providing access to safe, well-timed surgeries by partnering with local organizations and training local medical personnel in the Dominican Republic and around the world, to sustainably build local surgical capacity.

“Operation Smile is just as invested in providing free surgeries to children and young adults with cleft conditions as it is in providing our volunteers with the highest quality of training possible,” said Paul Martinez, executive director of Operation Smile Dominican Republic. “We are proud to partner with ILAC and create an impact for both current and future Operation Smile volunteers who will help address the lack of access to safe surgical care in our country, like operations to repair cleft.”

Trainees will be working alongside experienced Operation Smile volunteers during this program to engage in hands-on instruction and training. The program will include a day and a half of lectures, followed by one day of screening potential patients, and culminate with three days of surgery. The training and medical mission will be held at the ILAC Center, which will provide housing for volunteers as well training and operating rooms.

This volunteer skills training program is the second collaboration between ILAC and Operation Smile. The first program in October 2014 trained 30 volunteers and provided safe surgery to 20 patients with a cleft condition. Volunteers also earned 21 American Heart Association certifications in basic life support.
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