In 1998 Stefano had the great opportunity to spend two months and a half photographing medical missions of an American NGO named „Operation Smile“. The aim of the founders, William Magee Jr and his wife Kathleen, was to provide surgeries for those born with cleft lip and cleft palate. Cleft lip and cleft palate are direct consequences of very poor life’s conditions, scarce access to regular food and medical aids. Depending on the type and severity, a cleft can create serious health issues. Children can have difficulty with feeding; ear infections can occur, dental development can be affected. Speech and language development can also be impaired. Children may also suffer from bullying and social isolation.
Embedded to a high specialistic and experienced team Stefano Giulio Pavesi visited medical missions in Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil, Bolivia, Panama, Morocco, Kenia, Palestine, Jordan, Romania, China, Philippines, Vietnam. Every time it was for Stefano a strong emotional impact to see all the crowds of parents and sons and daughters patiently and joyfully waiting for free surgery that would have changed in better their lives. How many tears of happiness and hope he witnessed so far.
Stefano also witnessed goodness, empathy and compassion from the volunteered doctors. They take holidays in their countries in order to be able to reach medical missions and to do what in their communities they are paid for. And it takes empathy and compassion from Stefano too to convey the authenticity of love and smiles in the photos, so that their warmness reaches our hearts.
“Humanity, compassion, devotion, the spirit of sacrifice, love for the others accompanied me for the whole journey and enrich me of an extraordinary experience. I always remember that time with emotion and a deep sense of gratitude. I am lucky for having done this reportage” – said Stefano. For him, it was also a long journey, finding the truest smile.