The 25th Anniversary Uplift Internationale Gala Benefit raised over $77,000! The funds raised will help the mission teams provide 100 surgeries during a two-week mission to the Philippines in 2014 from February 2-8 in Palo, Tacloban and February 8-15 in Ormoc. Dr. Jaime Yrastorza inspired the attendees with his acceptance speech when presented with the Uplift Internationale Lifetime Achievement Award.

By Fran Campbell, Denver Asian Pacific American Commission

Dr. Yrastorza receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Uplift Internationale Gala.
Dr. Yrastorza receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Uplift Internationale Gala.

Twenty five years as an international charitable service organization is an impressive accomplishment and not one achieved by many. Yet, this very remarkable achievement was celebrated on Saturday, October 12 as volunteers, advocates, patrons, families and friends gathered for the Uplift International 25th Anniversary Gala Benefit and Auction.

Originally established in 1989, Uplift International has accomplished the following to date:
• 1,417 mending care surgeries primarily for cleft lips/palates at no-cost to children in the Philippines
• Over 625 volunteer medical and outreach personnel have participated in 24 annual medical missions (volunteers are responsible for their own travel, meals, and lodging expenses)
• Provided 192 mending care surgeries (24 per year) at the Taghoy Facial Cleft Clinic at Ormoc
The surgery allows these children to move from the shadows of society back into the light of the community. The care is provided at no cost to the children or their impoverished families.

The Uplift Internationale Anniversary Gala not only commemorated these accomplishments but also the great wealth of medical and community volunteers who have donated their knowledge, time and money over the past 25 years. Singular recognition was made of all the Uplift Internationale Humanitarian awardees from past years.

As befitting this special occasion, Dr. Jaime Yrastorza, Uplift Internationale Founder and President-Emeritus, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Yrastorza shared the following thoughts in gratitude and as encouragement to Uplift’s many volunteers and supporters:

“Twenty-five years ago, Uplift Internationale began as a vision fortified by single-minded willingness to bring to fruition a modest goal of humane purpose. It was to mend faces of children with cleft lip and palate born of impoverished families in rural Philippines. They are deformities that defy camouflage. The children are saddled by taunts and, sadly, ferment a consuming sense of self-worthlessness, driving them to retreat to the shadows of their community.

I was of the strong belief that in America, indeed, among every country of the world, there resides among people an innate virtue of compassion, of charity for the downtrodden, of willingness to extend a helping hand to fellowmen in need. It is this magnificent, sustaining resource that Uplift Internationale has tapped and given many the opportunity to volunteer their talent and time.

Dr. Jaime Yrastorza, maxillofacial surgeon, is the founder of Uplift Internationale.

In the ensuing years, my hope is that our project will mushroom and be able to conduct its activities to more children, at increasing number of venues, in the Philippines, coupled by the augmenting contribution of community-based Taghoy Facial Cleft Clinics managed by ‘Filipinos for Filipinos’ And, I further hope that the Philippines’ own wealth of expertise and philanthropy focused on the care of the malformation will triumph over the prevalence of Filipino children with the deformity.

It is important to me the tales of children whose lives have benefited from the project: the willingness to return to school, the joy from interacting with peers, the return to society and employment, the confidence to a courtship and marriage… they are the life-changing treasures of the benefited, as they are the immeasurable rewards of the benefactors.

It is indeed a legacy that rightfully should and will prevail in the future. For these coming years I ask that we hold dear our guiding motto to change lives by mending faces one child at a time. To each and every supporter, philanthropist, and participant – thank you for making this Uplift Silver Anniversary a success.”

The Uplift Internationale team is preparing for their 25th mission to the Philippines in February 2014. If you would like to donate to Operation Taghoy or for more information, visit

bookFrom Fire to Freedom: Childhood in Colonial Philippines to a Post-WWII Adulthood in America
By Jaime Alonso Yrastorza

$20.99 Paperback
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From Fire to Freedom narrates an insight into the tapestry of the life of Dr. Jaime Alonso Yrastorza. His weave of reminiscences begins in his idyllic upbringing in rural Philippines.

He reflects on the legacies that centuries of turbulent Spanish and American colonial overlords had influenced the mores and traditions of present-day Filipinos.

Living in a battlefield of WWII, he relives his experiences from days fraught with danger, destruction, and death as his family was caught in the struggle between the Japanese and American military forces.

After adolescence, he left the nation he refers to as Perla del Mar de Oriente, weaving an adventurous and enlightening odyssey in America, rigorously pursuing years of education in prestigious universities to gain a profession and become a patriotic American citizen.

He shares tales of his life with a growing family of five children and fourteen grandchildren from marriage to an Iowan with Irish blood running in her veins.

This inspiring personal journey shares the rewards from the fervor and perseverance of his actions and underscores his advocacy to engage our innate enriching quality of reciprocation and charity for the benefit of fellow men in need.