To inspire, empower, and transform for a better world—this is the ARIS commitment. Our school has a dedicated wing for community and service projects, called ARIS Cares, which is also the name of our year-long theme. Reflecting on our mission as we approach our 15th anniversary, we are progressively taking on bigger projects. One of them is an Operation Smile Fund started by our IBDP-2 student, Baiian. Operation Smile is a non-profit organization that operates in countries around the world, including in Ghana. Every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate. This not only affects children’s appearance, but also their health. Infants with cleft palate are not able to nurse and properly, which leads to under-nourished or even malnourished children. This condition also causes major challenges with speech, infections, dental decay, jaw development, and psycho-social issues. Operation Smile believes that any child suffering from this condition deserves exceptional health care and safe surgery. Since 2011, Operation Smile has been conducting medical programs to correct cleft lip and cleft palate in various regions of Ghana, including Accra, Cape Coast, Tamale, and Tema. Approximately 1 out of every 750 babies in the country are born with this condition. It takes as little as 45 minutes to transform these children’s lives thanks to a relatively simple operation. Touched by this reality, our student Baiian has taken on the mission of raising US$2,400 to deliver safe surgery to 10 children in Africa. Baiian states that for every surgery conducted through her fund, she will receive information about the child that received the operation and his or her country of origin. “Some can’t eat, some can’t go to school,” explains Baiian, describing how a cleft lip or cleft palate can have a lasting effect on the lives of children born with this condition. “They are either abandoned or come from families that have no way of affording a surgery.” Baiian continues: “There are so many ways that you can help these children; you can visit them, you can volunteer, you can educate them and provide other services, but it is only temporary,” she says, whereas raising the funds necessary to provide them with needed surgery will have a lasting positive impact on the children’s lives and transform their futures. “A lot can be done, and it really is not that difficult to make a change from where we stand in our society,” affirms the IBDP student. This is a project that will be able to substantially inspire, empower, and transform future generations in a very positive way. Baiian says that she has shared the donation link across the various groups to which she belongs. She will also be attending several events and fundraisers to spread awareness. She views this project with a long-term goal in mind; if this Smile Fund for 10 children in Africa is successful, she will open a Global Fund to raise money for other candidates for this surgery around the world. The ARIS Community will come through with individual and group donations; moreover, an institutional donation will be made from the ARIS Cares Fund. Once Baiian successfully raises the money to provide five children with surgery, the ARIS Cares Fund will match that donation, financing five additional operations. Oorna Mukherjee is the Communication and Admissions Assistant at Al-Rayan International School (ARIS), Ghana.
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