Mending Kids International (MKI) has completed its first Hometown Mission whereby the non-profit funded surgeries for 18 children, from six months to 18 years. The kids received free, life-altering surgeries for hand and ear deformities, cysts, lumps, serious burn injuries, and other outpatient procedures from a team of eight volunteer surgeons led by Andrew Freedman, M.D. The patients include eight Americans from the Los Angeles area, and children from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Christmas Island, Ghana, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Mel Gibson, Louis Gossett, Jr., Nick Simmons, and Dorothy Lucey, supporters of Mending Kids, were on hand while the kids were enjoying an entertaining day with Alice’s Traveling Tea Party at a private residence in Malibu.
These children’s lives are changed forever thanks to the private donations that have funded this mission, from travel costs to hospital expenses. MKI Host Families make certain that the living arrangements and emotional needs are provided for the kids who have traveled long distances alone, who are largely from small villages where there is no access to or funds for adequate medical care.
Access to medical care is difficult for families around the world and here in the United States. Oftentimes, financial restrictions, lack of knowledge about public programs, or denials from government agencies prevent children from receiving needed surgery from reconstructive to more serious, all of which are transformational. “Thirty minutes in the operating room is the whole difference between a childhood of teasing and a childhood of confidence,” says MKI Executive Director, Marchelle L. Sellers.
Pierre, from Los Angeles, had a large lump growing on his left ear. With tears, his mom said she begged agencies to fund the removal. The single mother of four, who works nights just to get by, says, “No one would pay because they say the lump is cosmetic. I’ve wanted this surgery for years and MKI was the only agency to say yes. They understand how removing this will make his childhood easier. He starts kindergarten this fall and no one will ever know he had this. It will not define him.”
For more information, visit mendingkids.org.