Roots of Change is a storytelling platform dedicated to the Alumni community of The Funding Network Australia. Here we share their stories of ingenuity, courage, determination, spirit, growth and the impact these grassroots organisations have had, as a direct result of funds and support received from The Funding Network community.

Operation Smile

Operation Smile


Providing surgery for children and young adults born with craniofacial conditions.

Operation Smile's primary focus is for conditions such as cleft lip, cleft palate and encephalocele. They treat mainly children and young adults in South East Asia.

2015 Pitch
Funds raised: $16,610

Operation Smile Australia presented at The Funding Network in Sydney on 7 September 2015 and raised $16,610 which has been applied towards the cost of 3 medical missions in Cavite, Isabella and South Cotabato, breaking down barriers to corrective surgery and offering respite for patients and their families.

The impact...

Five-year-old Niño is playful, energetic and makes everyone around him laugh with his games and smiles. His mother says she’s happy Niño has been surrounded by a loving family who tries not to treat him differently because of his facial cleft – something she has learned unfortunately isn’t the same for many of the other patients at the Operation Smile medical mission site in South Cotabato province in the Philippines.  From the moment Niño entered the clinic, he let his personality shine through the language barrier as he connected with the medical volunteers. He even helped the other children laugh, easing their nerves and apprehension about surgery - and he showed no fear about going into the operating room himself, joking and laughing with volunteers.

But when Niño surgery was complete, his mother was overjoyed: her expressions of enthusiastic appreciation a reminder of just how much even the most loving and supportive family struggled to protect their little boy from social stigma and discomfort. Craniofacial conditions like Niño's not only compromise nutrition and speech but they can also derail a person's education and social development: surgical corrections are life-changing. 

The funding has been sufficient to include an extra medical mission to the two initially contemplated, and each mission provided opportunities for at least 40 educated and highly skilled international volunteers from around the world to join an international team and learn from each other.

The contribution made by the skilled volunteer teams involved in each mission in turn encourages and empowers the local communities to also volunteer in support of their own people, building local patient trust and forming an important collaborative bond between patients, local volunteers and international volunteers.


Read their Impact Report

Learn more about Operation Smile.

Tribal Warrior

Tribal Warrior