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Nothing more rewarding

by Lauren Yanks
January 20, 2011 12:50 PM | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Facial plastic surgeon Dr. Manoj Abraham with a mother and child prior to surgery to correct a cleft lip deformity during a recent Healing the Children medical mission to Colombia.
Shake off the January blues when the Bacon Brothers perform a benefit concert on Sunday, January 30, at 5 p.m. at the Bardavon Theatre on Market Street in Poughkeepsie. The concert benefits Healing the Children, a nonprofit organization that runs medical missions for needy children around the globe.

Growing up in Philadelphia, the Bacon Brothers played music together long before Kevin became a high-profile actor and Michael a renowned film composer. “It’s great to have the Bacon Brothers at the Bardavon for the very first time and really wonderful to help raise funds for such a worthy cause,” said Bardavon executive director Chris Silva.

The concert will benefit three upcoming surgical missions led by Dr. Manoj Abraham, a Poughkeepsie-based physician specializing in facial plastic, reconstructive and laser surgery. An expert in cleft lips and palates, Abraham has led numerous missions around the world. He and a team of local medical personnel leave for a mission to Santa Marta, Colombia, a week after the concert.

“Last time we went to Santa Marta it was almost brutally busy,” recalled Abraham. “There was a large volume of children who came to be operated on, and I feel incredibly bad when I have to turn them away.”

Growing up in difficult circumstances in Sri Lanka, Abraham has firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be a child in need. “There was a lot of ethnic violence and terrible rioting,” he said. “They set fire to our neighbor’s house, and the whole family was killed.”

Abraham’s family fled to Nigeria, but after a military coup had to flee again.

“I had an uncle in the US, and he sponsored us to get citizenship,” he said. “We got to Massachusetts in ’83 or ’84, when I was in the eighth grade. I consider myself incredibly lucky. These children we help on our missions are in terrible situations as well. I see a lot of similarities in their situations as in mine.”

Abraham plans to lead another mission to Peru in April and yet another to Colombia in October. “It’s a challenge because it takes time away from my practice and my family,” he said. “But it’s a worthwhile sacrifice for the change we can make in these children’s lives. On average, we do about 60 to 80 procedures each mission.”

Not just about

prettier faces

Dana Buffin, executive director of Healing the Children Northeast, enjoys working with Abraham and looks forward the concert. “Manoj has been so phenomenal at leading so many missions,” she said. “Many of the same medical personnel in the Hudson Valley continue to participate because he’s a great team leader.”

Mary Hayden, a registered nurse from Gardiner, has gone on five missions with Abraham. “There’s just nothing more rewarding than to have a disfigured child transformed,” she said. “It’s not just about a prettier face where the child will no longer have that social stigma, but you know the child will no longer be malnourished or have to deal with other major health issues that cleft lips and palates can cause.”

Ticket prices are $50 or $65, depending on seating. Hundred-dollar front-row seats are available, and there sponsorship opportunities can include a pre-show meeting with the band. There will also be a silent auction with items like all-package vacations, restaurant gift certificates, and spa services. Area medical personnel will be honored at a post-show reception for their dedication to helping children.

“The vast majority of our medical teams come from the Hudson Valley,” said Abraham. “Without the support of the local community we couldn’t do these missions.”

Buffin emphasizes that 93% of the money donated goes directly towards the children. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear some terrific music and meet great people,” she said. “And more importantly, while having a great time, you are changing the life of a child.”++

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