Local teens spread smiles overseas


Jondre Macaraeg plays with Kim Ngan at a hospital in Vietnam.

Through medical missions offered by as Operation Smile, juniors Jondre Macaraeg and Shreya Raj will each spend a week of their summers in developing nations, helping to assist doctors with oral surgery for children with facial deformities.

The students will provide help in a variety of ways; they will screen patients, observe surgeries, aid speech pathologists, and entertain children before and after operations.

“Being there for the kids, and getting to teach and interact with them is amazing, and something I had only seen through pictures before,” said Jondre. “Now living the experience, I am grateful I joined the club and became more involved; I cannot wait to do more in the future.”

Jondre’s mission took place earlier this summer in Vietnam, while Shreya’s mission will be later this summer in Malawi.

“I have never been so excited to do anything as I am for this mission,” said Shreya. “It is going to be a life changing and breathtaking adventure to go to Malawi and be a part of something so amazing.”

With help from their advisor Andrea Smolin and club member Sean Abella, Shreya and Jondre collected donations from students to bring on their missions. Donated supplies include toothbrushes, toothpaste, stuffed animals, coloring books, and crayons.

“Sean Micheal Abella asked if he could help advertise within the school to help Shreya and Jondre get items for their mission [for a STEM class project],” said Smolin. “Thanks to his advertising and the OLHS staff’s generosity, Jondre and Shreya had more than enough mission supplies.”

Being selected for a mission is a long process that requires students to apply to and attend both an International Student Leadership Conference and a Mission Training Workshop.

“I have been wanting to go on an Operation Smile mission ever since I was introduced to the idea during a meeting freshman year. Having been here on the mission, and getting to experience all the work up close is more amazing than I ever imagined,” said Jondre.