Tune-In Wednesday, January 7th!
Check your local listing & mark your calendars for this amazing story!
**Update: Watch the video at The Doctors **
The journey started 5 long years ago and now, many surgeries later, thanks to the Operation of Hope family, a team of volunteers at the SHARP Memorial Hospital & PermaDontics in San Diego, land-mine victim, Blessing Makwera from Zimbabwe, Africa shares his inspirational story of receiving his handsome new face on CBS- The Doctors TV Show, January 7th!
A special thank you, too to our friends at Nordstrom Rack in Boise, Idaho for their generosity in donating Blessing’s beautiful new suit for the show!
Blessing, A Landmine Victim of Innocent Curiosity
It’s the kind of thing that kids do all the time: Something on the ground distracts them. It looks interesting, exciting. They pick it up to investigate.
That’s exactly what happened to Blessing Makwera in his homeland of Zimbabwe. Blessing, age 9 at the time, put into his mouth a small metal object with two wires sticking out. Curious how it worked, he tried to connect the wires to his cell phone battery. The device — a charged detonator for land mines — exploded. Most of Blessing’s jaw, teeth and tongue were obliterated in an instant.
Though he survived, Blessing could barely speak or chew. Some of his family abandoned him out of stigma and fear. The people in his community shunned him because of his disfigurement.
“I first met Blessing when he was just 15 years old, said Jennifer Trubenbach, President of Operation of Hope, a Lake Forest, CA based group, that has provided life-changing surgical care to underserved areas of the world through international collaboration, for the past 26 years.
“We were at Harare Hospital in Zimbabwe on a cleft mission and Blessing came to the hospital with his father, Pedzisai. It didn’t take much for all of us on the team to fall in love with Blessing. He’s got this contagious spirit that inspired all of us, despite his unfortunate circumstances. He never complains, he’s always grateful and finds the silver lining with everything in life. I know it can’t be easy because people can judge so quickly when they see someone with a face that doesn’t look right, but with Blessing, I never see the disfigurement…. I only see his sweet spirit, his encouraging heart and his great sense of humor that shines through his smile. We all wanted to help him but the resources in Zimbabwe, at that time, were slim.
When Operation of Hope’s President, Jennifer Trubenbach returned to the US, she searched for several years for a hospital that could take on Blessing’s complicated case. His story struck a chord; Sharp HealthCare’s leaders wanted to do what they could to help such a young victim of innocent curiosity. And they had the expertise and state-of-the-art technology to do it right.
In March 2013, Blessing left everything he knew in Zimbabwe to travel to San Diego to begin his treatment. His surgical team included Dr. Joel Berger, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon; and Drs. Thomas Vecchione and James Chao, plastic surgeons.
Blessing, now 21, can smile, laugh, speak and eat. While he completes treatment, he’s hoping to attend school in Idaho, looking toward a brighter future.
Give the gift of hope – Send Blessing to College!
All funds will support Blessing’s dream of going to University in 2015 and the continued work of Operation of Hope.
… or send a donation to OPERATION OF HOPE, PO BOX 99, Lake Forest, CA 92609.