The year 10 student has been on a mission with fellow students from his school to help children receive free cleft surgery as well as have access to medical care through Operation Smile.

Operation Smile is a “global surgical non-profit organisation, founded in 1982, that improves the health and dignity of patients living with cleft lip and cleft palete in low- and middle-income countries.” Operation Smile has “embraced and cultivated youth volunteerism worldwide, in order to build awareness, raise funds and empower young leaders to create positive change.”

I spoke to Tomás Tavares about the initiative and about what his school has done to make such a positive impact. Tomás told me that he is “the treasurer of the Operation Smile club which I started at the start of this year and the club is made up of two adults and seven students”. He also told me that “myself and my friends are committed to helping others and they started by fundraising for Operation Smile’s Sending Hope campaign. The campaign provided hygiene products and meals to families in Nicaragua that were especially hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The fundraiser was a huge success in which “they raised an extraordinary €2,000 which provided over 20,000 meals to families worldwide.” He told me that he “was surprised with the amount we managed to raise in three days and it was such a rewarding experience especially through the way in which the whole student community and their parents came together to donate.” Tomás also told me that “helping other is an incredible feeling, especially knowing that all the money we raised gave families food and medicine”. Tomás assured me that they “do not plan to lose this momentum and we will continue to fundraise every couple of months, in order to change children’s lives”. His club plans to host a party or sports tournament in order to raise money for the important cause.

Additionally, Tomás has been doing everything he can to persuade others to join his mission and told me that he really wants to keep their club alive when he leaves for university. The club has made a conscious effort to educate younger years about Operation Smile’s life-saving cleft surgeries and how their help can make all the difference in helping children to “breathe better, eat, speak and live lives of greater quality and confidence”. He also told me that he “enjoys volunteering for Operation Smile so much that I will continue to volunteer for them once I go to University to study Economics as I feel it is so important to donate my time to a good cause.”

For more information about Operation Smile please see www.operationsmile.org or please check out @operationsmile on social media.