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Arts Operation Smile's Wonderland

Operation Smile's Wonderland

October 01, 2011
On September 25, a carnival-themed family extravaganza kicks off, conceptualised by Sabrina Fung, Fiona Kotur Marin, Lily Ahn Riddick - a unique fundraising event for Operation Smile’s China medical missions



For the last 20 years, Operation Smile, led by chairman Sir David Akers-Jones, has been organising medical missions to China to help underprivileged children with cleft lips and cleft palates have life-changing reconstructive surgeries. And with 2011 being the second decade of operating in China, Operation Smile has aggressive plans to expand the number of medical missions, charity hospitals, and help more children than ever before.

And in a bid to raise funds for their worthy cause, on Saturday, September 25, a large-scale carnival-themed event dubbed "Wonderland" kicks off, targeted and families and their children.

Conceptualised and brought to life by Tatler regulars Sabrina Fung, Fiona Kotur Marin and Lily Ahn Riddick, the event features live performances and meet-and-greet opportunities with popular characters such as Barbie, Barney, Bob the Builder, larger-than-life versions of classic games like Monopoly and Twister, unique activities like a Girlie Beauty Parlour and Playdoh Creavitity Class, plus large installations of a 3D Thomas the Tank Engine and more.

And if that wasn't enough, puppeteers, jugglers, clowns, musicians, hip-hop dancers will abound - along with the opportunity for young kids to get involved in the cause. Kids can design a T-shirt for one patient on one of Operation Smile's medical missions, for the cost of directly sponsoring one child's surgery. Then Operation Smile will bring back a photo so the child who decorated the T-shirt at Wonderland so he or she can see the child they helped in China.

Toys "R" Us will also donate 15 per cent of all sales during the event to Operation Smile.

David Wong, Operation Smile's director, talks to about this unique fundraiser. Why should people in Hong Kong get involved with this cause?

David Wong: Cleft lips and cleft palates are congenital defects that occur in about 1 out of 600 births and affect people all around the world. In Hong Kong, treatment is readily accessible, so it is unusual to see anyone with a cleft. However, many families in China simply cannot afford the cost of surgery, so their children grow up facing numerous social and physical hardships that a one-hour procedure can prevent.

For nearly 20 years, Operation Smile - China Medical Mission has been organizing medical missions to rural areas where teams of volunteer doctors and nurses provide surgery to needy children, and funding charity hospitals where families can bring children any time of the year to receive no-cost treatment. Since 1991, we have provided over 17,000 free reconstructive surgeries in China.
It costs roughly HK$5,000 to HK$7,000 to provide one cleft surgery, which is not a very large amount in Hong Kong. And when you consider the lifetime of smiles this donation can bring, it is well worth it. The important work we do is entirely funded through donations, so the more people we can get involved, the more lives

Watch the video of Operation Smile above.

AT: Tell us about the people on the event committee who conceptualised this unique fundraiser.

DW: Sabrina Fung, Fiona Kotur Marin (pictured below, far left, assisting in an operation in China) and Lily Ahn Riddick are the incredible ladies who created Wonderland, which we intend to make an annual extravaganza. Fiona and Lily first got involved during a medical mission in Guangdong Province many years ago, where they witnessed the amazing change that we could bring to the lives of so many children in need.

Since that time, Fiona and Lily have been regularly organising fundraising events and building connections with many of our sponsors. As parents, they also feel that it is important for children to be involved, to learn about difficulties faced by those who may be less fortunate, and to find a way to help. Wonderland is an exceptional way for children, schools, and sponsors to generate change in the world, while having a fantastic time doing it.

AT: How involved is Sir David Akers-Jones in this event?

DW: Sir David has been Chairman of Operation Smile - China Medical Mission since the early days in Hong Kong. He has been the driving force behind our presence in China and the smiles we bring. For those readers who have had the good fortune to work beside him, perhaps in one of the other organisations which he chairs, I am sure you will know how personally vested he is in the success of our activities, and the kindhearted and generous manner in which he leads.

AT: How much are you hoping to raise during this event?

DW: We hope that Wonderland will raise enough money for us to provide 300 free surgeries in China, so our target is about HK$2 million. All proceeds will go directly towards funding our medical activities.

AT: Can volunteers in Hong Kong also join your medical missions in China?

DW: Absolutely! Corporate sponsors, individual donors, students, and medical volunteers from Hong Kong often join our medical missions to China. It is an unforgettable experience to witness first-hand how your donation of time or money is making a life-long difference for these children and their families.


Where: Toys "R" Us, G/F and 2/F Event Space, Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui
When: Saturday, 25 September 2010
Tickets: HK$888 per person (family ticket packages available)

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