Mark your calendars for this amazing story of land-mine victim Blessing Makwera from Zimbabwe, Africa as he shares his inspirational tale of receiving his handsome new face on CBS “The Doctors” TV Show on January 7th. The journey started 5 long years ago and now, many surgeries later, thanks to the Operation of Hope family comprised of a team of volunteers at the SHARP Memorial Hospital & PermaDontics in San Diego, Blessing’s life has changed for the best.
Innocent Curiosity Led to a Tragedy
Blessing was only 9 years-old when the accident happened. He found a small metal object with 2 wires sticking out on the ground and put the object in his mouth, while trying to connect the wires to his cell phone battery. The boy had no idea that the device he found was actually a charged detonator for land mines. In an instant, the device exploded obliterating most of Blessing’s teeth, jaw and tongue.
The little boy was lucky to have survived, but he could barely speak or chew following the accident. He was abandoned by some of his family out of fear and stigma. His disfigurement led to Blessing being bullied and avoided by most members of his community.
I first met Blessing when he was just 15 years old. 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.
Jennifer Trubenbach, President of Operation of Hope.
For the past 25 years, Operation of Hope, a group located in Lake Forest, CA, has provided life-changing surgical care to underserved areas of the world through international collaboration. In March 2013, Blessing left Zimbabwe to travel to San Diego in order to begin his treatment for a new life. Sharp HealthCare’s leaders wanted to do what they could to help him and had the expertise and state-of-the-art technology to do it right.
Blessing’s surgical team included Dr. Joel Berger, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon; and Drs. Thomas Vecchione and James Chao, plastic surgeons. Blessing is now 21 years-old and can smile, laugh, speak and eat thanks to the dedication and hard work of all people involved in his story. While he completes his treatment, he is hoping to attend school in Idaho.
My dream is to attend University in Boise, while awaiting the rest of my surgeries, and become a mechanical engineer. I’d like to return home to Zimbabwe to give back to my homeland and to help Operation of Hope with their work of giving another child hope, like they did for me.Blessing
You Too Can Help Blessing!
To contribute to Blessing's cause, please visit Operation of Hope to donate on-line or send a donation to PO BOX 99, Lake Forest, CA 92609. Or, to inquire about Sponsorship or Corporate Responsibility opportunities, call (949) 463 1795.
I believe I was chosen to have this accident. It may be hard to understand, but because I am able to share my story, I will help others who are going through similar situations. It was all meant to be.