PARAGUAY, by Marité and Ramón Marini. With material from ABC color •
On 5 March 2016, the Family Federation held a start-up gathering, but Coco Pereira did not participate. The reason: that Saturday, evaluations for people born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate, who need comprehensive medical care, began at 8:00 a.m. at the Central Military Hospital at (Gra. Diaz and Hernadarias, Asunción). The medical surgeon, Dr. Orlando “Coco” Pereira is one of the many professionals who voluntarily care for people with these malformations.
The doctors operated on children born with cleft lip ages 6 months and up, and with cleft palate from age one through Operation Smile, at no cost. However, anyone who has this condition can come for a consultation with the medical interdisciplinary team, regardless of age.
The medical team includes Paraguayans, foreigners, and professional volunteers from different specialties who join their knowledge and talents for a week to give hope and a smile to scores of children and their families, through reconstructive surgery.
The Paraguayan Operation Smile Foundation has carried out their medical session for eleven consecutive years with the goal of changing the lives of one hundred children, youth and adults with limited resources, who were born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate.
Corporal works of mercy –helping people in need
Dr. Orlando Pereira commented that in Paraguay it is estimated that 1 out of 500 children born alive have a cleft lip and/or cleft palate. This means that approximately 320 children are born annually with this congenital facial deformity that can be corrected. There are approximately 13,000 people with this condition, many of whom probably never received adequate surgery due to a lack of resources. “Paraguay is a country with a high incidence of lip/cleft palate.”
In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy- counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness.”
Pope Francis, Lenten Message 2016
Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited by: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA