Not surprisingly, Rameeta Dhaliwal has already made friends in Nicaragua.
The gregarious – not to mention gorgeous – local woman, a national finalist in the Miss Universe Canada pageant held in Toronto recently, says she feels happy to be making a difference in the lives of children in her work in Nicaragua.
She is part of a Humanitarian Tour representing Miss Universe Canada which runs June 18 to July 2. (See Free Press story June 20.) Her fundraising campaign brought in $25,157 for Operation Smile and since she arrived at her destination, she has gotten to see first hand and even take part in the work they do improving the smiles of children born with defects like cleft lips and palates.
She sent the Free Press a photo of one of the children who had just undergone a procedure to repair a lip birth defect.
“He had a successful surgery and (now) has a beautiful smile,” Dhaliwal wrote.
The operation was rewarding for her as well, she said, because she was invited to be part of the surgical team.
“Dr. Rodriquez Cabrera requested I be his assistant for these surguries since I am a registered surgical nurse. I’ve never assisted a physician in the operating room so I was honoured to take this role. This was an incredible experience,” she said.
Part of her experience has been deeply emotional and heart-wrenching, however.
“It was heartbreaking seeing the separation between the child and parent before the surgery. However, seeing the change and successful surgery, and the parent seeing their child for the first time after surgery, was one of the most rewarding and incredible experiences.”
During her tour Dhaliwal expected to visit six SOS children’s villages including Estelli, where the Operation Smile team is working with 80 children. Her progress can be followed on social media.