Smile Train

Smile Train is an international children's charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with unrepaired clefts live in shame, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their communities.
Dec 4, 2014

A Smile is so Bright it Lights Up the Holidays

Beijing, China—Xinrui is a two-year-old girl from Bei Gao Li Village, a rural part of China’s Hebei province. When you see her bright smile today you would never know that she was born with both a cleft lip and palate.

Thanks to the generous support of Smile Train donors and the doctors of Beijing Stomatological Hospital, Xinrui received her free Smile Train cleft lip surgery when she was just three months old and her palate surgery shortly after at 16 months. Because she received cleft surgery so early in life she will never know the teasing or difficulties eating and speaking that so many other children born with clefts face.

Today Xinrui is a cheerful and smart little girl. Although she’s only two years old, she has already become a small leader amongst her friends. Her cleverness has made her a favorite among the adults in her community as well. When little Xinrui visits their houses to play they call it “the happy hour.”

Xinrui lives a happy life with love and care from all of her family and friends.

Nov 18, 2014

Smile Train Philippines Surpasses 20,000 Free Clef

Manila, Philippines — Smile Train Philippines has provided its 20,000th free cleft lip/palate surgery. This remarkable "smilestone" was reached when Smile Train partner St. Vincent General Hospital in Marikina City completed 4-year-old Edward Pastidio's free cleft lip surgery.

"Smile Train believes that every child born with a cleft deserves the opportunity to live a full and productive life. This global organization aims to reach poor communities and families that do not have access to medical care, and bridge the gap between the cleft child and a simple surgery that will change his life,” said Kimmy Flaviano, Country Manager, Smile Train Philippines.

While most patients his age may not understand the importance of the surgery he received, Edward knew exactly what he had in store for him. When asked if he goes to school, he responded, "No, because my lip hasn’t been sewn yet."

Like most 4-year-olds, Edward is outgoing and full of energy; he loves to draw, write, and play basketball. He has been lucky that his family and his community have accepted him for who he is and have always looked past his cleft lip — sadly, a rare occurence for children with unrepaired clefts who usually live lives of shame and isolation.

The youngest of three siblings, Edward has lots of friends in his neighborhood that he won over with his great personality. Occasionally, a new child would move in and make fun of him, but they quickly learned that his playmates would have none of it. However, the school teacher was afraid that this would change if he attended school without having his cleft repaired.

For Edward and his family, his surgery opens a new chapter in their lives. One where Edward will never have to suffer or be held back becaues of his cleft. A chapter where Edward's intelligence, spirit, and happiness will be free to flourish and where his dream to become a professional basketball player can become a reality.

For the more than 4,000 children who are born with cleft lip and/or palate in the Philippines each year, Edward's surgery represents hope that they too can receive the surgery they need and go on to live a normal life.

“We are very happy and proud to have reached this smilestone. Helping thousands of Filipinos born with cleft lips and palates inspires us to do even more. This is why we strive to sustain and continually expand our local operations and we are very thankful for the support of our partner hospitals and organizations nationwide. Our goal is to give every underprivileged Filipino child born with a cleft a brighter future,” added Kimmy.

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May 22, 2014

Fly my Dream

Changsha, China — Smile Train patient He Yumei describes her determination during Smile Train-sponsored speech therapy treatment, provided for free by Smile Train. She was born with cleft lip and palate, which were repaired, but needed further help correcting her speech.

I was born in a poor mountain village in China where my parents worked hard in the field. I spent my childhood there, unhappy. From kindergarten to primary school, I had grown up with others' derision. When I was a child, I couldn't understand why I was different from others, why playmates laughed at me, and why they refused to play with me.

I did everything alone. I walked alone, studied alone, and came back home early. I completely closed myself off. I just tried my best to be a good student in my teacher's eyes. Looking back now, I don't know how I went through such difficult times. During middle school though, I became cheerful when I realized my dream: to win a place for myself in society.

During summer vacation in 2012, I discovered Smile Train from a magazine that my uncle took from one of their partner hospitals. The news that my cleft lip and palate could be repaired by Smile Train brought me great hope. I never thought repair was possible until this point.

After my surgery, I was determined to get speech therapy. On April 16, 2013, I went to the speech therapy room at The Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in Hunan Province. Ms. He, the speech pathologist, taught me slowly and explained everything in detail. She was patient while I relearned how to articulate properly. I felt embarrassed at the beginning, but I figured out that, in order to treat my speech, mistakes need to happen. Every time I learned a new articulation, I was very careful to practice it repeatedly so I could continue to replicate it. I even practiced articulation on the way to school, despite the odd looks of passersby. When I completely learned an articulation, I felt cheerful and closer to my dream.

With Ms. He’s skillful teaching and guidance, I quickly grasped the pronunciation that before eluded me.

Although I encountered some setbacks in practice, my only thought was that I wanted to speak like a normal person, nothing else mattered. Even when my roommates could no longer tolerate my articulation practice, I simply decided to practice alone in the classroom. For my dream, my future, my relatives, I felt it was all worthwhile. Fly my dream and welcome a better tomorrow.

I am now studying in Hunan Vocational College of Modern Logistics as a freshman in accounting. My new dream is to become a chief financial officer, which I think is a realistic goal. I believe that my dream will be achieved through perseverance and an earnest attitude.

Thank you Smile Train and the generous donors who give to this charitable organization for providing me speech therapy free of charge. I will cherish the precious chance you have given me. You are my power to strive, you give me a chance of rebirth, and you guide me a bright way. When I come to crossroads in my life, I will think of you and pass on my deepest love.

Before I hated destiny for making a fool of me, but now I feel grateful to destiny for such a different life experience. I believe that such experiences will help me go through difficulties in the future. I have known how to resolve obstacles before me. I was favored by fortune!

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