If you are interested in joining us on a mission either as a medical or non-medical volunteer, please read through our FAQ to learn more and fill out the interest form to attend one of our upcoming web conference calls to get further details.
Mending Kids: Missions
Where in the World Mozambique is located northeast of South Africa on the Indian Ocean. It is a nation of 21 Million people, 14 million of which are children. A former Portuguese colony, the nation gained its independence in 1975. As a result, the majority of the Portuguese population suddenly deserted the country, erasing public service and infrastructure. Once a destination for wealthy South African travelers and globetrotters, and known for its breathtaking coastline, Mozambique fell into a civil war between 1977 and 1992. A million lives were lost and this beautiful country was devastated. For over twenty years, Mozambique has been struggling to rebuild its infrastructure and replenish the ranks of medical and educational professionals. To complicate things, the recent discoveries of vast natural gas fields has infused the nation with enormous amounts of cash, none of which seems to be immediately earmarked for pediatric health care. However, Mozambique is determined to regain a care system, and so Mending Kids is working to train the few native doctors in Maputo. The Children Acute burn wounds are the seventh leading pediatric cause of death in Mozambique (AIDS and Tuberculosis being the top two). Catastrophic accidents with children commonly occur in the home due to families cooking indoors with open fires, unstable propane burners, or burning trash in close quarters; resulting in massive scalding and third degree burn wounds to children in close proximity. Due to inadequate access to health services, essential medicines, and a shortage of health professionals trained in wound management, children may go untreated for weeks, even months. Current burn surgeries offered in Mozambique often lead to amputation rather than reconstruction, due to traumatic disfigurement, scar-tissue buildup, and mobility restricting ligatures, with no relief in sight. The Mission The first Mending Kids surgical mission was deployed to Mozambique in 2011, in the country’s capital of Maputo. Taking place at the Hospital Central de Maputo (HCM) and in collaboration with Dr. Celma Issufo (the first pediatric plastic surgeon in the country) this mission took the first steps toward building a long-term relationship for imparting safe surgical skills and post-operative wound management in order for Mozambican medical professionals to provide for their patients. Under the on-going leadership of Dr. David Kulber from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, his Mending Kids team provides, pediatric surgical training in plastic and burn reconstructive techniques. To hear about the Mending Kids Mozambique Mission from Dr. Kulber himself and how he is using Google Glass technology to improve surgical care abroad, follow this link to The Doctors show: http://thedoctorstv.com/videos/google-glass-for-virtually-guided-surgery This is the first ever surgical mission that anyone has ever used Google Glass for, and we are proud to use them to better the medical practices in developing countries. Progress and Goals Mending Kids strives to establish self-sustainment in burn treatment and management at HCM while making more complex surgeries available to children. Training local hospital staff in post-operative care for children and wound care management for burns is a paramount goal for reducing infection during recovery and increasing patient recovery times. Mending Kids partnered with ReSurge International in 2016 with the goal of sending surgical missions multiple times a year to provide continuous, shoulder-to-shoulder surgical training for Dr. Issufo and her team of surgeons. In addition to contributing teachings to hospital staff in the ICU and recovery ward about post-operative care, wound care management, and physical therapy for burn victims. Interested Volunteers Non-surgical team volunteers are limited as this is a Micro-Team Mission, and there is currently a waiting list. If you are interested in volunteering, review our FAQ section (click the Get Involved tab, then Mission Volunteer button) and then contact email@example.com. The team fee for this mission is $5000 and will require a deposit of $500 to hold your spot. Donations Donate today to support our team’s work providing plastic and burn surgical care for the children of Mozambique. Publications Karan A, Amado V, Vitorino P, Kulber D, Taela A, DeUgarte DA. Evaluating the socioeconomic and cultural factors associated with pediatric burn injuries in Maputo, Mozambique. Aug 2015. Pediatric Surgery International.Learn More
Where in the World Tanzania is located in the eastern region of Africa. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the South. The population of Tanzania is about 47.4 million and 45% of the population are children between the ages of 0-14. The population distribution of Tanzania is extremely uneven with most people living on the northern border or eastern coast. Many Tanzanians live on an equivalent of less than a dollar a day. Healthcare in Tanzania Healthcare in Tanzania is not accessible to the entire population. It is only available to those who have income. Health insurance has only been recently introduced, but it is very limited and does not attend to the needs of the majority of Tanzanians, particularly those outside of urban areas. For a population of almost 50 million people, there are only approximately 800 qualified doctors in entire the country. This patient to doctor ratio is among the worst in all of Africa. The Children According to UNICEF, the under-five mortality rate in Tanzania is strikingly high at 81 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate is 51 per 1,000 live births. Tanzania is making considerable progress in the reduction of child mortality due to the government’s commitment to increase use of key health interventions. These include sustained high coverage of under-five immunizations, Vitamin A supplementation, insecticide treated bed nets, and better treatment for malaria. Tanzania has a high prevalence of congenital heart diseases. In a research study conducted at the Bugando Medical Center between October 2012 and January 2013, 29% of infants enrolled in the study had high prevalence of congenital anomalies. This Mending Kids mission will provide both open-heart surgeries and training in order to create a sustainable program for the cardiac needs of children in Tanzania. The Mission This Mending Kids cardiac/cath mission to Tanzania will take place from September 8-19, 2016 in collaboration with the surgical team from Bambino Gesù Ospedale Pediatrico in Italy and the Muhimbili Hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. This mission will be led by pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr. Salvatore (Sasha) Agati, and by pediatric interventional cardiologist, Dr. Evan Zahn. The goal is to provide life-saving open-heart surgeries for up to 15 kids and interventional procedures for 20 kids, including training for local cardiac surgeon, Dr. Godwin Sharau, who just completed five years of training in Israel. Dr. Sharau is the first Tanzanian surgeon to focus solely on pediatric cardiac surgery. Goals Since 2015, Mending Kids has worked with Dr. Sharau and his team at JKCI, to screen and diagnose hundreds of children, while providing over 80 life-changing procedures. These mission support Dr. Sharau with a safety net of expert surgeons, for him to operate on increasingly complex cases. The team performed the first Truncus case in Tanzania, between the 2016 mission visit, Dr. Sharau and JKCI provided over 100 life-saving surgeries to children without assistance of Mission teams; slowly increasing their capacity and build goals. Striving to be more impactful, Mending Kids is partnering with Australian based, Open Hearts International and Israeli based, Save A Child's Heart to deploy additional missions year round for years to come. This partnership not only empowers Dr. Sharau but also encourages the Ministry of Health in Tanzania to allocate additional funds for pediatric cardiac care at JKCI as it takes greater strides to become a Center of Excellence for the region. This leads to not only providing safe surgeries for Tanzanian children, but to helping children from neighboring East-African countries gain access to surgical care as well. During these missions, MK has helped children from Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Please join us from October 1-15, 2017 to help us reach our goals! Interested Volunteers Non-surgical team volunteers are currently being recruited for this mission. If you are interested in volunteering, review our FAQ section (click the Get Involved tab, then Mission Volunteer button) and then contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The team fee for this mission is $5000 and will require a deposit of $500 to hold your spot. Donations Make a difference and donate now to mend the heart of a child waiting for surgery in Tanzania.Learn More
Where in the World Guatemala is located in Central America and is one of the poorest countries in all of Latin America. It is bordered by Mexico to the north and El Salvador and Honduras to the south. Guatemala has a population of 15,824,463 people, 56.2% of which live below the national poverty line. 36% of the entire population are children below the age of 14. 40.5% of the population is made up by the indigenous community, facing harsh socioeconomic inequalities to this day. Healthcare in Guatemala Guatemala has some of the highest infant mortality rate and lowest life expectancies in the Central American region. Many Guatemalans lack access to healthcare services, as there are currently only 16,000 physicians for the entire population. The Children Our young patients come from all over Guatemala, some enduring long walks out of their mountain villages to reach roads in order to get rides into the capital and the Moore Pediatric Center. Current research has not yet confirmed why so many Guatemalan children have congenital birth defects, but suspicions lie in some genetic corn strains that block the absorption of folic acid. Unmet surgical care can contribute to the various diseases children die young from, and better perioperative care for those who are lucky enough to receive surgeries could improve the overall survival rate of these children. The Mission The Mending Kids mission to Guatemala each year is a shining example of our on-going commitment to provide life-changing and life-saving help to the children of a nation still recovering from a civil war nearly 20 years ago and a country where nearly half of its population is under the age of 18. In 2014, Mending Kids deployed two ENT missions to Guatemala City, the following year, Mending Kids deployed a multi-specialized team of ENT and Plastics surgeons, led by otolaryngologists Dr. Ayal Willner, Dr. Nina Yoshpe and Dr. McCoy “Mac” Moretz of F.A.C.E. of Beverly Hills. These surgeons and their dedicated team mended 105 children in just one week! This was largest number of surgeries ever performed at The Moore Pediatric Surgery Center in one week and the largest number of surgeries performed on any Mending Kids mission. In November 2016, the team returned to again provide 102 children with life-changing and life-saving ENT corrective surgery. In October 2017, we will send another mission to continue providing life-changing and life-saving surgeries for children in need of these procedures. Goals To expand the clinical training of on-site providers, to create partnerships with satellite clinics to enhance pre-op and post-op care, to expand the scope to include higher complexity surgical cases such as congenital anomalies, and to continue the training until self-sustainment has been established without the need for assistance from missions such as ours. Interested Volunteers Beginning in 2016, we have formatted this mission to accommodate large groups. For October 2017, this mission is currently reserved. If you have a large group which you would like to have participate in a mission, please contact Molly Hulbert, our Missions Administrator, at email@example.com to gain further information. Donations Join our team by donating now to help kids in Guatemala receive specialty care for much needed Ear, Nose and Throat surgery.Learn More
Where in the World China is the world’s most populated country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. China houses people of 56 different ethnic groups. About 17% of the population are children under the age of 14 years. Luoyang is located in Central China and is one of the four great ancient capitals of China. It has a population of about 6,500,000 people, most living in urban settings. The city is famous for the Longmen Grottos and its cultivation of peonies. Zhengzhou is near the Yellow River and is the capital of the Hennan province. With 9,568,000 people, this urban area is filled with museums and ancient history. Healthcare in China China’s rapid economic growth has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty since 1978. Currently, 10% of the population lives below the poverty line. As of 2011, 95% of China’s population has basic health insurance coverage and there have been many improvements in health. However, due to the country’s high population density, public health problems such as respiratory illnesses and serious infectious disease outbreaks are an ongoing issue. The Children Every year nearly 900,000 Chinese children are born with congenital anomalies and, according to the Chinese Ministry of Health, birth defect rates have increased across China by 70% from 1996 to 2010. The increase in children born with birth defects also increases the number of children abandoned in Chinese orphanages. Anorectal malformations (ARMs) are one of the most common congenital anomalies seen in China, however research does not yet know why. ARMs occur when a newborn’s anus and rectum (the lower end of the digestive tract) has not developed properly or is sometimes completely absent. A child born with an imperforated anus is considered the worst curse on a family in Chinese culture, one that carries on for generations. The children born with this malformation are far less likely to be adopted by Chinese families than other orphans. The Mission The Mending Kids mission to China is all about hope, love, and mending children’s lives under the leadership of Dr. Phil Frykman and Dr. Keith Kimble of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. This mission exemplifies our ongoing commitment to sustainability by partnering with local surgeons Dr. Zhai Shiwei, the Assistant Professor of Surgery at The First Affiliated Hospital of Henan University of Chinese Medicine, Dr. Yan Jun, Dr. Wang Ying, and Dr. Liu Hong Bo, giving them the opportunity to participate and lead minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures to correct ARMs. Through an exchange of knowledge and experience, Mending Kids participates in Chinese conferences during its missions, utilizing the latest telemedical and live-surgery support, broadcasting several surgeries to young and mid-career pediatric surgeons throughout the region. These conferences draw a large audience of doctor, raising awareness, continuing to build trust culminating in a new declaration by the Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Yang announcing, "We will no longer council parents of newborns with complex ARMs to take their babies home to die, because we have nothing to offer them. We now know how to repair these conditions and can offer infants not only life-saving procedures, but a good quality of life, thanks to the training your team has provided for us." Mending Kids ARMs patients are all orphans living in the care of Maria’s Big House of Hope (MBHOH) the flagship of Show Hope’s Care Centers located in the city of Luoyang, in the Henan province of China. These children live with colostomies, performed emergently in the first few days of life, to relieve the obstructed colon. Without the ARM corrective surgery by our Mending Kids team, these children have little to no hope of ever being adopted. Progress ince 2011, Mending Kids has transformed the lives of over 70 orphans in Luoyang, China whom otherwise would have remained unadoptable because of their congenital birth defects. As a result of the hard work of our surgical team, 46% of these children have now been adopted into loving families with a chance at a healthy life! As a result of past missions, the Pena stimulator and the new, lower-cost Frykman/Kimble stimulator developed by the Global Pediatric Surgical Technology & Education Project (GP STEP) were created as a tool for muscle stimulation of the anal sphincter, necessary to find the exact point to correct an imperforated anus. This inexpensive, simple tool can be made available to local surgeons in China and aid thousands of children in giving them a chance at a healthier, more active life. The progress of the Mending Kids China mission has steadily increased each year, from training one surgeon in a private operating room, to performing surgeries out of Luoyang First People's Hospital and Luoyang Women’s and Children’s Hospital. 2017 ushers in a new beginning as Mending Kids partners with the Henan Provincial People’s Hospital of Zhengzhou (one of the largest hospitals in the Henan Province) and the Teaching Hospital of Zhengzhou University, allowing our Mending Kids team to provide ARM training to a larger audience of pediatric surgeons and budding medical students. Interested Volunteers The dates for this mission have not been finalized. Non-surgical team volunteers are limited as this is a Micro-Team Mission and there is currently a waiting list. If you are interested in volunteering, review our FAQ section (click the Get Involved tab, then Mission Volunteer button) and then contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The team fee for this mission is $4000 and will require a deposit of $500 to hold your spot. Donations Change the world, one child at a time, by donating to our ARM mission to China as we provide surgical care to orphans.Learn More
Where in the World Tanzania is located in the eastern region of Africa. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the South. The population of Tanzania is about 47.4 million and 45% of the population are children between the ages of 0-14. The population distribution of Tanzania is extremely uneven with most people living on the northern border or eastern coast. Many Tanzanians live on an equivalent of less than a dollar a day. The Mwanza Region is located in northern Tanzania with a population of 2,800,000, the second largest city in Tanzania. The Mwanza Region is occupied by various tribal groups. The region currently has 6 hospitals, led by the Bugando Medical Center. Healthcare in Tanzania Healthcare in Tanzania is not accessible to the entire population. It is only available to those who have income. Health insurance has only been recently introduced, but it is very limited and does not attend to the needs of the majority of Tanzanians, particularly those outside of urban areas. For a population of almost 50 million people, there are only approximately 800 qualified doctors in entire the country. This patient to doctor ratio is among the worst in all of Africa. The Children According to UNICEF, the under-five mortality rate in Tanzania is strikingly high at 81 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate is 51 per 1,000 live births. Tanzania is making considerable progress in the reduction of child mortality due to the government’s commitment to increase use of key health interventions. These include sustained high coverage of under-five immunizations, Vitamin A supplementation, insecticide treated bed nets, and better treatment for malaria. The Mission Anorectal malformations (ARMs) occur when a newborn’s anus and rectum (the lower end of the digestive tract) has not developed properly or is sometimes completely absent. Tanzanian children born with congenital colorectal birth defects or ARMs live out their lives with a colostomy, and due to the cultural belief that the defect is a curse, these children are forced to live in the shadows and in shame. The opportunity for these children to receive ARM surgery gives them a new found hope of leading a healthy, happier life and to attend school in the future. The Mending Kids ARMs Mission team deploys yearly to the city of Mwanza, situated on the shores of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania. Dr. Jason Frischer of the Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, OH, leads a team to the Bugando Medical Center (BMC) a tertiary hospital that serves about 16 million people from the region. The mission imparts critical surgical training skills to nun-surgeon, Sister Alicia Massenga, a general surgeon with a keen interest in pediatric surgery to help the hundreds of children from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya currently on the waitlist. Goals From its early beginning in the fall of 2015, the decision was made to travel to the BMC with a radiologist in order to teach the local team how to administer colostograms and vital ultrasounds to properly diagnose and interpret the findings. Toshiba generously granted Mending Kids the use of a portable machine which has been a critical tool in the selection of patients. Our team makes greater strides in training local nurses on bowel-prep techniques and postoperative bowel management. Mending Kids has partnered with locally based nonprofits to help track our patients from the rural countryside and provide following-up care. Since the first mission, the Mending Kids team has helped more than 30 children and aided in diagnosing more than 70 to receive the correct treatment. This Mending Kids ARM mission to Mwanza will take place from November 2-13, 2017 in collaboration with the surgical team from the Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the Bugando Medical Center. This mission will be led by pediatric surgeon, Dr. Jason Frischer. The goal is to provide life-changing surgeries for up to 15 kids, including training for local surgeon, Sister Dr. Alicia Massenga. There are currently hundreds of children at the center with complex colorectal malformations who are awaiting surgeries. Interested Volunteers Non-surgical team volunteers are currently being recruited for this mission. If you are interested in volunteering, review our FAQ section (click the Get Involved tab, then Mission Volunteer button) and then contact email@example.com. The team fee for this mission is $5000 and will require a deposit of $500 to hold your spot. Donations Join our team by donating today in support of Mending Kids’ efforts to help children living with birth defects live longer, stronger lives.Learn More
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone......so come on abroad! Mend a life, and change your own!
Frequently Asked Questions
Read through these FAQs and fill out the Volunteer Interest Form at the bottom of the page to be entered into our volunteer database. You will then be contacted by the Missions Department periodically as opportunities to volunteer on missions arise.
The vast majority of our surgical team members are hand-selected by the lead surgeon of each mission and must have at least 5 years of working experience in the particular pediatric specialty. This ensures that the surgical team members know each other and work cohesively together. We still encourage licensed, insured medical and surgical personnel to apply as volunteers on our missions, as we will sometimes need to supplement surgical team personnel. Surgical team members are expected to work 5 days in the ICU/OR/Recovery room during the trip. R&R and sightseeing opportunities are often available at the end of the mission week, but this is considered a work trip and Mending Kids does not coordinate any excursion activities.
While we cannot guarantee a position as a surgical team member, you may always apply to come as a non-surgical team volunteer.
Yes. We need non-surgical team volunteers to help with a variety of tasks on our missions. Responsibilities include child-life services, photography, record-keeping, administrative support, outreach, and much more. Not all missions take non-surgical volunteers (depending on hospital and team-size restrictions). Refer to each mission page to see if there are spots available to volunteer.
Volunteers are expected to bring overall positivity and enthusiasm to the team. Each volunteer must be a team-player and represent Mending Kids in a friendly and professional manner. Before you leave on a mission, you will be expected to attend an orientation meeting and any other pre-mission meetings at the Mending Kids office in Burbank, CA. If you live outside of Southern California, you would need to join the meetings via phone. While on the mission, you are required to follow the pre-set trip itinerary and all directions from our Mission Coordinator. Volunteers need to be flexible, adaptable, open-minded, and ready to serve the families and children that need our surgical care.
Teenagers ages 15-17 may join a mission but must be accompanied by a parent or designated legal guardian. Not all missions are open to children under the age of 18. Adults ages 18 and over are welcome on any mission that is open to volunteers.
If you are a surgical team volunteer, your fees will range between $300-500 depending on the location. Missions to countries in Central America are usually $300, South America and Southeast Asia $400, and Africa $500.
If you are a non-surgical team volunteer, your fees in 2016 will range in cost from $3,000 - $5,000 depending on the location. Missions to countries in Central America are usually $3000, South America and Southeast Asia $4000, and Africa $5000. As our volunteer spots on missions quickly fill up and form waiting lists, to secure your spot on the mission as a non-surgical volunteer you must submit a $500-$1000 deposit. You must pay the remaining balance of the team fee by the appropriate deadline (usually 6-8 weeks before the mission departure date). Mending Kids will not book any airfare or hotel accommodations until all team fee balances have been paid.
Team fees are subject to change and can vary from country to country.
The team fee of your trip includes the cost of your economy flights, double, triple or group occupancy accommodations (depending on the location,) local transportation, breakfast, lunch, and some dinners, and a life-changing experience.
The cost of your trip does not include: visas, transit visa authorizations for layovers, vaccinations, souvenirs, or excursions outside of our mission schedule or the additional flight costs if applicable to join the group when traveling from outside the Los Angeles area.
We encourage all our volunteers to raise money for their team fees by setting up a fundraising web page, through which you can use email and social media to ask your friends and family to help sponsor your trip. Mending Kids will provide you with the information on the particular mission, photos, and information on some of the children we will be helping.
Even if you already have the funds available, we still encourage spreading the word about why you are volunteering on a Mending Kids surgical mission and asking for support. Any amounts raised beyond the team fees will help us underwrite the costs of providing critical surgical care to the children on your mission. Any donations made on your behalf will be restricted to that mission and tax-deductible to the donor.
Mending Kids will arrange all travel to and from the mission site, so that the team travels on the same itinerary as best as possible. You will be asked to approve your flight schedule before it is booked. Mending Kids will not book flights for any team member before all team fees and application paperwork are submitted - usually 6-8 weeks prior to travel. If team fees are received late, and the position is still available, increases in airfare costs will be added fees. Once travel is booked, all team fees are non-refundable.
Mending Kids will arrange all room and board during the week of the mission. You will be sharing a room with one or more roommates, depending on the accommodations available at the site. Accommodations will be provided either at a local hotel, or on-site at our local partner facility. You will be given all accommodations information prior to leaving on your mission. Mending Kids will not arrange room/board for any excursion activities or any personal extra days of travel outside of the mission dates.
Should you need to cancel your participation on the mission, you must notify Mending Kids as soon as possible as we must open that spot to others on the waiting list. We will refund your team fee less the deposit only if we have not yet booked your airfare and accommodations. If weâ€™ve already booked the travel plans (usually at 6 weeks prior to the mission departure), we can no longer return your team fee.
Our mission trips typically last from 7-10 days, generally with 6-7 days in country, and 1-2 days of traveling to the site before and after the mission dates.
Mending Kids takes every precaution to keep our staff, medical personnel, and volunteers safe. We always partner with a local host or organization who assists us with in-country travel, food recommendations, and local cultural practices. Our pre-mission orientation meetings cover concerns and appropriate, cultural sensitivity conduct and wardrobe. In the event that a mission site is deemed to be dangerous (political instability, natural disasters, epidemics, etc.), Mending Kids will postpone, reschedule or cancel the mission. All American Citizen travelers are registered with the local embassies of the countries we travel to.
Ready to Continue?
Simply click the button below and fill out the form provided. You can even save your progress and return to fill in the rest later. After we receive your submission, one of our staff will contact you to follow up.