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To think of plastic surgery in the west brings to mind the spasmodic pursuit of aesthetic perfection. Several women and men that are dissatisfied, are willing to spend thousands of dollars to make up their nose, breasts, remove a belly roll, pull up the cheekbones, remove chicken feet. And the ephimeral has triumphed, except for where in some cases the psychological factor is paramount. But there are parts of the world where your ‘look’ is a luxury you cannot afford, where the phrase “thousands of dollars” is not even included in the vocabulary of entire villages, where disease and poverty go hand in hand, tracing the tracks of a difficult life.

“When my son was born – tells Aamira, a young mother from Togo-it was immediately evident that something was not wrong with his face. He had a cleft lip, a congenital malformation that disfigured his mouth and his face. For me it was really traumatic, I couldn’t accept the child and was struggling even to look at it. In the village the other women started not to greet me and excluded me, because they believed that the deformity was caused by the influence of an evil spirit. No one could operate or treat my baby, I was desperate. So when they told me that an Italian doctor would come to the hospital of Saint Jean de Dieu, I did not think twice about setting off with my baby on my shoulders to ask him for help. ”
But Africa is not small, and distances are tiresome to cover: “the journey continued-it lasted two days. The child was a few months old. When I saw the results, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It didn’t seem possible that it was my baby and that his deformity was completely gone. After a week we returned to remove the stitches and the child gave the doctor the best gift: the first smile “.

A small miracle made possible by those who choose to spend part of their lives, personally and professionally, putting themselves to the service of the last, those people forgotten by so-called”civilization”. It’s plastic surgery, Aicpe Onlus humanitarian Foundation, which does volunteer work in Guatemala, Togo and other African countries. The Association, branch of Aicpe (Italian Association of aesthetic Plastic Surgery) has been active since 2013 and supports surgeons involved in charitable projects around the world. A slap in the face to those who practise the profession of surgeon with the sole objective to get rich.

Aamira is just one of the many smiles that have been returned to the people of Africa. “We were for the first time in Guatemala in collaboration with ‘ on the road ‘ onlus, an NGO which has been operating in the country for 14 years,” explains Bernardi Claudio Bernardi, plastic surgeon and President of the onlus-Aicpe. Especially in The Mayan village of Granadilla, at 100 km from the capital Guatemala City, where, together with our partner Paolo Rosa and other surgeons, we performed plastic surgery among indigent patients».

In all, during the week of our mission, we have performed about 60 people for a total of 75 operations, having regard for the combination of several diseases in the same patient.”The main problems of the population are linked to birth malformations and especially for burns caused by the explosion of gunpowder (working with fireworks is the main occupation of the area), which are not adequately treated in the acute phase and lead to retract fibrotic processes-often severely debilitating. Local hospitals said Bernardi-are distant and difficult to reach but not accessibile to the poor people “.


Traslation by Marina Stronati

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