Posted by Carl Vahl


Olean Rotarian Carl R. Vahl recently returned from cleft lip and palate surgery mission to Myanmar (formerly Burma) funded by a grant from The Rotary Foundation. The mission was sponsored and organized by Alliance for Smiles, Inc. with funding and cooperation from the RIF, Yangon Myanmar Rotary Club, Rotary International Districts 6910, 3350 and 5150 and the San Francisco, Lawrenceville, Dawson County, Jasper Lake Chatuge/Hiawassee, Canton Dahlonega Sunrise, Thompson, Greene, Putnam Oconee, and Columbia County Rotary Clubs.
The two-week mission took place from March 24 to April 6 at the Sitagu Arryundana Hospital in Sagaing Myanmar. The 16-member team included many Rotary members from across the USA including plastic surgeons from San Francisco and Holland.  A total of 88 children were provided cost free clef lip, cleft palate and related surgery and a total of 113 surgical procedures were performed during 9 days of surgery.
Alliance for Smiles is a San Francisco based NGO founded in 2004 by six members of the San Francisco Rotary Club. Since 2004, the organization has performed over 6000 surgeries on children in Myanmar, the Philippines, South Korea, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and China.
This was Carl’s second Alliance for Smiles mission. His first took place in Chang zhi China in April of 2016. Carl serves as the medical record preparer and works closely with the team leader, surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatrician and numerous nurses to make assure complete and accurate medical records that are turned over to the local hospital after the mission.  Pictured is Carl with the families of some of the children who received a life changing surgery.
Carl became involved with Alliance for Smiles several years ago through a good friend, Wilber Breseman a Rotarian from Marcellus Michigan, who Carl met while participating in National Immunization Days in India and Niger. Mr. Breseman also accompanied Carl during four trips to Niger assisting with the Olean Rotary Club’s well drilling, water and sanitation project in Libore Niger.
On April 22, 2017 Carl was a presenter at the Alliance for Smiles Annual Black Tie Gala event held at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco California. Carl and co-presenter Tina Fischin, a RIF Service Above Self Award recipient and team leader of the Sagaing, Myanmar mission, spoke and delivered a slideshow tribute in memory of Wilber Breseman who died in July of 2016 from injuries sustained during his service as a platoon sergeant in Vietnam in 1968.