Inspired by transforming lives through Operation Smile
We hear from Sandy Dau about why she chooses to fundraise for Operation Smile and how it brings together her local community.
Dr Sandy Dau, dentist and clinical director at Envisage Dental, is passionate about social causes. She’s acutely aware of the impact of cleft conditions. Especially in parts of the world where access to safe surgery is out of reach for so many.
This explains why the work of children’s cleft charity Operation Smile is close to her heart.
Moved by life-changing cleft surgery
Sandy’s journey with Operation Smile started after her first donation in 2005.
Seeing the photos of children who had undergone reconstructive cleft surgery in countries like Morocco and the Philippines had a lasting impact on her. Particularly because of the sheer difference that it made to their lives.
Sandy was moved to use her position at Envisage Dental as a force for good. It inspired the later partnership with Operation Smile.
She says: ‘The functional and aesthetic impact of cleft lip and palate surgery is huge. But at times we overlook the social and psychological stigma on an individual and their family.
‘Operation Smile seeks to help those who really can’t help themselves, in low socio-economic climates where healthcare provisions aren’t accessible to everyone.
‘In addition to surgeries, Operation Smile also provides health screening, speech and nutrition therapy, dentistry and hands-on training to these areas. What isn’t inspirational about that?!’
A whole team approach to fundraising
The dentist is not alone in her fundraising efforts. Envisage Dental runs a group of private dental practices across the UK. Teams at all locations come together as a group to generate fundraising ideas and run local initiatives, supported by patients.
‘We saw the spirit of camaraderie and deeper friendships forming when working toward a common goal. We would love to change the lives of 1,000 children in the coming years.
‘It’s also quite special to see individuals shine when their ideas for fundraising come to fruition. Of course, being able to bring together our patient community to help support this cause was also very important to us,’ Sandy recalls.
As a health professional, Sandy strongly believes that healthcare organisations have a special responsibility to align their purpose and values to those of the people and communities they serve.
She says: ‘Bridging together our community with those who are further afield was and is very important to me.
‘The work Operation Smile carries out hit a chord throughout our nationwide network of clinics. Having the aligned ethos of starting as a family-led organisation to empower passionate, local teams to provide healthcare and a sense of wellbeing to improve lives, we felt it instinctual to support the work of Operation Smile.’
Helping others has a lifelong impact
Sandy believes that giving back, either collectively or as an individual can provide a much-needed sense of purpose.
She tells us: ‘The acts of kindness that come from working towards a common cause and seeing the impact you have had in a community will stay with you for a lifetime.
‘Charity begins at home, but it shouldn’t stop there.
‘We are more aware than ever of the social, economic and political gaps that exist throughout our world. If there is a way to shorten the gap, I know most of us will want to try.
‘There are lots of ways to get involved. From donating to fundraising or raising awareness on the importance of cleft care.’
Inspired to get involved?
It takes just 45 minutes and as little as £150 to provide life-changing cleft surgery.
For more information about fundraising and raising awareness in your dental practice or on social media, visit www.operationsmile.org.uk/fundraise.