To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we were honoured to welcome Clark Agno Gonzales onto the podcast. Clark is a medical volunteer with Operation Smile, the official partner of the EMEA Recruitment podcast.
“I’ve got this skill, I’ve got this talent, there’s really nothing that’s going to hold me from helping these kids.”
Clark is a nurse with the NHS in the UK. She also volunteers as a recovery room nurse on Operation Smile’s medical missions around the world. She explains to Paul Toms, our Founder, how many children she looks after on a typical mission and the countries that she’s visited with the charity.
Originally from the Philippines, a case that particularly stands out to Clark was in her home country. A grandfather brought one of his grandchildren for surgery, but had a bilateral cleft lip himself. When the Operation Smile team offered to operate on him, they saw an immediate transformation, which was emotional for all involved. Clark and her fellow volunteers connect after the day’s work over dinner to let their emotions out.
She was originally invited to join an Operation Smile medical mission by her university professor. Using her skills and talent, Clark sees an instant transformation in her patients.
There are up to 100 volunteers on a mission. Before the surgery day begins, they break into teams to plan, and even connect with each other before leaving for the mission. Local volunteers ensure that the Operation Smile team stays safe in each location.
Two years ago, Operation Smile organised a Women in Medicine short-term surgical programme, where 60% of volunteers were female. This teaching mission focused on empowering women to complete the surgeries on their own. Senior surgeons, nurses and dentists go along to share their knowledge with the younger generation, which aims to benefit patients and the health system in that country.
Clark reveals the challenges she faces before and during a medical mission. She also explains how she manages to fit these missions into her life, amongst a day job and new baby. It’s the “mission high” that brings joy and happiness to Clark, who even gives up her holiday time for Operation Smile.
We end the episode by finding out what Clark has learned about herself by visiting Operation Smile’s mission sites.
If you’d like to get involved with Operation Smile, either through volunteering or fundraising, please visit their website: https://www.operationsmile.org/
If you'd prefer to watch the episode, you can find it on YouTube:
Use the timestamps below to find the part of the episode that interests you the most:
01:02: Clark’s new arrival 01:23: Working and having a baby during COVID-19 02:08: Clark’s role at Operation Smile 03:06: How many children Clark looks after on a mission 03:54: The countries that Clark has visited 04:30: The mission that stands out the most 06:00: How the team lets their emotions out 07:34: How Clark got involved with Operation Smile 09:17: The team spirit amongst volunteers 11:29: How Operation Smile keeps everyone safe 15:53: The Women in Medicine surgical programme 17:50: The challenges that Clark’s faces 20:11: How Clark manages her time 23:35: What Clark has learned about herself 25:10: How to get involved with Operation Smile