Quilters in Fernie recently met with the Fernie Quilt Guild to make children’s quilts for the Rotary sponsored Rotaplast medical missions. Thirteen quilts were presented to the Fernie Rotary Club on March 27 as part of the Wrap-A-Smile project.
In 1992, two Rotarians from San Francisco organized a medical mission to repair cleft palates. From this small beginning, medical missions have gone out every year to developing countries to operate on children and young people who have cleft lips and cleft palates. Repair of a cleft lip and palate allows a child to smile for the first time and to speak normally. In 1998, Rotaplast International was founded to organize the fundraising and the medical groups and volunteers who go out on these humanitarian missions. As of 2012, 15,000 surgeries had been completed. This is one of many Rotary International Projects.
In 2001, a nurse on one of the trips, Terry Hodskins was shocked to see that children had no blankets to keep them warm in the operating room. Children were wrapped in polyethylene sheets or newspapers. When she came home to the United States she organized quilters to make children’s quilts for the missions, and the Wrap-A-Smile quilt project was born. Now each child undergoing an operation is given a quilt to keep, and the date of the operation is written on the quilt label. Fernie quilts had a label saying the Fernie Quilt Guild made the quilts plus a Canadian flag so the children know that someone in Canada cared about them. This is the fifth time quilters in Fernie have made quilts for Wrap-A-Smile.
Rotaplast, the organization that now raises money for the medical missions, has many medical groups and volunteers going out to developing countries each year. Starting with one mission in 1993, nine missions are planned for 2014. Rotary Clubs help to fund these missions. This is the fourth time the Fernie Rotary Club has sponsored the Fernie Quilt guild to make quilts for Wrap-A-Smile.
If you are interested in learning more about Wrap-A-Smile or Rotaplast International the website is www.rotaplast.org. If you would like to make a quilt for Wrap-A-Smile or join us next year when we are sewing quilts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.