By MCC(SW/AW) Jerel Jones
Joint Special Operations Task-Force-Philippines Public Affairs
TAWI-TAWI, Republic of the Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines and Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines provided medical supplies, security escorts, and transportation, enabling 10 civilian doctors from Operation Smile Philippines to perform 24 surgeries Sept. 23-26.
Located at Datu Halon Sakilan Memorial Hospital in the province of Tawi-Tawi, the event was a collaborative effort of many organizations, coming together for a greater cause.
“Without the help from the AFP and the JSOTF-P, this event may have not been possible,” said Rachel P. Halipa, president of the Rotary Club of Bongao, Tawi Tawi.At the hospital, doctors corrected cleft-lips and pallets of patients ranging in ages two to 65 years old. One patient, a 65-year-old man, was overcome with emotion after his procedure.
“Thank you, thank you. I no longer have to be looked at like some kind of a monster,” he said.
The supplies AFP and JSOTF-P supplied enabled the doctors to perform their surgeries and also aided in the patient’s comfort. AFP Marine Battalion Landing Team TWO (MBLT-2) provided cots and JSOTF-P distributed crayons, coloring books, stuffed animals, and various other toys for children recovering from surgery.
“When we work together we can do these great things, so we will continue working with the AFP and the local government units to provide these services for the people of the Republic of the Philippines,” said U.S. Army Capt. Peter E. Murphy, civil affairs team leader.
Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile volunteers have treated more than 130,000 children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities in 51 countries.
“It is because of the assistance of the AFP and JSOTF-P that the children will now be able to have a better childhood and a better life from the kindness of the hearts of the doctors that participated,” said Halipa.