Caroline Brady '19 will attend an Operation Smile medical mission trip in Ho, Ghana as a student educator.
“I am excited and extremely thankful to be given this amazing opportunity,” said Caroline, who joined the Operation Smile Club at MSMA in her freshman year, saying she “fell in love with the organization and everything it stands for.”
“In July 2016, I went to San Diego for the International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) and met students from all around the world with the same passion of helping others. Being around people with such similar beliefs and motives inspired me to continue my participation in the student programs by applying to mission training, “she said.
During the weekend of January 13, Caroline flew to Operation Smile Headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia for the Winter Mission Training Workshop (MTW). A select group of about 30 students from all over the country met to be trained and prepared for a medical mission.
“Our two main roles on a medical mission are to build relationships with the patients and to educate them on life-saving preventative healthcare modules,” she explained. “Throughout the packed weekend, we were taught the modules to explain to patients and their families on our mission, and given multiple opportunities to practice presenting. It is amazing that basic information on hand washing, oral hygiene, burn care and prevention, oral rehydration therapy, and nutrition can transform a child’s health.”
Caroline added, “It may be obvious to us that we must have a well-balanced diet and constantly wash our hands, but it is not obvious to these children. We also improved our public speaking skills by working with a representative from the Dale Carnegie organization.”
“Students are a crucial part of any mission trip because building relationships with the children prior to their surgery makes them comfortable and able to retain the information we are presenting,” she said. “I discovered that Operation Smile does more for children than just performing reconstructive surgeries for cleft lips. The impact made on these children goes far beyond fixing their cleft, because the lessons we teach them will change their lives and eventually everyone around them.”
Regarding her upcoming trip to Ghana, Caroline explained, “What I can expect is that I will immerse myself into the African culture to learn and experience everything I can while I am there. I expect to try new foods and experience different cultures. I also expect to encounter some uncomfortable situations because there will be some communication barriers to overcome. I also expect to confirm my interest in a career in medicine.”
“Operation Smile has sparked my interest in the medical field and I hope by being in a hospital setting I will solidify and develop this goal. This trip is just the beginning of my mission to help others. I hope to use my personal experiences from Ghana to start a chain reaction and inspire others at home to get involved as well. Above all, my main goal for this mission trip is to touch the lives of the patients and families I meet, just as I am sure they will change mine,” she noted.
Caroline credits three MSMA students with influencing her Operation Smile experiences:
“At the Mount’s freshman retreat in 2015, I was influenced by Julia Hadley '17 when she presented her mission experience and video. Seeing photos of patients and hearing about how she personally connected with them made me decide to peruse this passion I was developing for the organization. Since then, Anna Makowski '17 and Abby Mackessy '17 have supported me through my ISLC and MTW experience. I hope to inspire others to join the movement and get involved.”
Caroline concluded, “Becoming involved with Operation Smile was without question one of the best decisions of my life. The student programs have connected me with other students from all around the world with the same passion of helping others and they have showed us how together, we can make powerful impact on the world.”
Caroline Brady '19 is pictured, right, with her mission partner Taylor Harvey.