[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/26/art.smile.jpg
caption=”Damien Declerk, 25, is a mission coordinator with Operation Smile.”]
“Everything OK, Damien?” I ask him every other time he zips in front of me with a different box of papers, equipment or toys. “Yeah, yeah,” he laughs. “You’re not stressed?” “No way, this is great,” he says with a genuine smile.
Damien is the mission coordinator on the Operation Smile volunteer trip I am on in Alexandria, Egypt. He’s 25 years old. His role puts him in charge of people twice his age. He oversees all the plastic surgeons, pediatricians and nurses who have donated their time and expertise to offer free operations to kids with cleft lips and/or palates, who can’t afford or don’t have access to the procedure otherwise.
Damien is the kind of guy that will make you laugh even in a crowded hospital in the Third World. He’s been on missions from Morocco to Madagascar. “We have so much and they have so little, and still, the people here are some of the kindest, most giving people I’ve ever met. There is no reason for us not to be happy,” Damien says, of course, with another contagious smile.
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
Pingback: Daily News About Egypt : A few links about Egypt - Sunday, 26 April 2009 14:06
Come home soom Damien. I miss you and looking forward to the Cruise! Nice Picture.
Here’s the thing….
You haven’t seen even close to the amount of talent he’s got….yet
What a guy, the smile must be genetic as well as genuine!
Damien, who is your favorite brother and who is your favorite sister-in-law? Just wanted to get the truth on national television. Love you little brother! Matthieu
Having worked with Damien on an Operation Smile Mission, I can also speak of his amazing character, heart, intelligence, calm, and his warmth and kindness. It does not matter whether you are a professional or a peasant, you will see all of Damien’s wonderful characteristics. Damien does indeed “rock.” And in doing so, he gives me great hope for the future.
He is the picture of what idealism can mean when translated into action. His positive attitude and eagerness to do anything required to help these children is a true inspiration to people of all ages. Seeing young people like Damien rock in making a difference around the world, restores our faith in humanity.
“We have so much and they have so little, and still, the people here are some of the kindest, most giving people I’ve ever met. There is no reason for us not to be happy.”
You couldn’t have said it better Damien!
you are on your own league, so inspiring to young people like me who are not that pro-actively involve in community service in such a grand scale as yours..
you are a role model to today’s society and i’m grateful to be alive in this time to follow your lead and try to make a difference in a small way to the world we live in..
I highly doubt that the plastic surgeons and pediatricians would agree that Damien is “in charge” of them. It sounds like he is an administrator who is there to support the efforts of the dedicated doctors and nurses.
What a wonderful guy, we need more like him in this world!
Damien, this is one of the most fantastic stories i’ve heard all night… after spending the night (which was sort of depressing) in our pediatric unit at the hospital, where i’m a nurse, it really help shed some light on just why we’re doing what we’re doing…
how did you get involved in this/how would you recommend(would you recommend) this experience to someone like me???
Greetings Damien, due to genetic alteration we present many cases in Venezuela were small children from the rural sites need to recieve surgery, would you be willing to visit caracas and country’s interior any time soon with operation smiles?
You didn’t think I would see this!? I check CNN EVERY DAY!
Damien is one of the best people I know….He does rock. Great friend, great person. Operation Smile is lucky to have him.
It’s always good to hear this kind of news and very refreshing to know that someone cares about people and, that there is a way to change this world, no matter if it is little by little. Does anyone know if he goes there by himself? of if he’s been sponsored?. is it possible to contribute to this change/cause?. Greetings!!!
I agree with Ken on this one. How could Damien possibly understand the intricacies of cleft palet surgery? What exactly does Damien do really? Hopefully he is putting our taxpayer’s money to good use and not sitting around on the couch watching Entourage translated into Eqyptian while those hard working doctors and nurses slave away in the non-airconditioned hospitals.
Does Damien have an MD? Hopefully they ask him that during the interview. I would like to applaud his use of Aromat throughout the process though. During his time in the occident, Aromat probably helped him the most. Also, to answer Vanessa’s question, I believe Damien’s expertise is limited to cleft palets and possibly bonchitus
mabrook ya damien. you are our hero! we so appreciate the voice you are giving to children who might not have their own, and all the smiles you help bring into the world…
DAMIEN!!!! I’ve been looking for you! Who would have thought that you would randomly turn up on cnn.com? Are you still as good looking as I remember with your shirt off? I remember watching you swim your laps and screaming at the top of my lungs, “GO DAMIEN!” Gosh! I can’t believe it. You should stop by my pad sometime. It would be nice to see how you are doing. OH MY GOSh!
Excellent and Inspiring. Proud parents!
Good job Damien! Keep it like this – I wish so much to join you!
Флирт с красиви жени
To Ken and Peter if you read the blog you’d see that he’s the MISSION COORDINATOR. Nowhere does it say he’s a doctor or wannabe doctor who needs to understand the “intricacies of cleft palet surgery”. What he’s doing requres time, organization skills and a big heart and for you two to trash him being “just an administrator” is very unbecoming. My question is – what are YOU doing to better mankind?
Damien truly is an amazing guy! He is a breath of fresh air in world suffocating with need. Damien truly has the heart of a servant with the smile of a king. Thank you so much for making this world a better place Damien. You so rock!
Operation Smile seems to be a dignified cause, I will like to be part of one of these campaigns, but sometimes there is not enough money for that.
If you are looking for something like this lets join me!