Lucknow, India — Doctors, patients, and the Minister of Protocol, the Honorable Prof. Abhishek Mishra, celebrated the launch of the city's newest bus at Vivekananda Polyclinic and Institute of Medical Sciences. Fanfare like this normally wouldn't accompany a bus launch, but this is no ordinary bus —this bus delivers smiles.
In an effort to help desperately poor patients receive the free cleft surgery they need, the Smile Train Bus will run a door-to-door service directly to Vivekananda Polyclinic and Institute of Medical Sciences. For patients whose families live off less than $2 a day, travelling to and from the hospital can be a financial strain. This is exacerbated by the poor connectivity in the region, where it can take more than a day for a rural family to travel 20 miles into the city. In an effort to alleviate this burden and help families enroll their children into our programs, a special Smile Train grant was provided for the bus.
The inaugural trip saw 25 cleft patients brought to a local zoo where they received a VIP tour of the facility including ice cream and a train ride through zoo. The event was capped off by the hospital's "adoption" of a chimpanzee named Smiley. This new mascot, along with the bus will serve to help raise awareness of Smile Train's free cleft programs throughout Lucknow and surrounding villages.
After the trip to the zoo, Smile Train patients were returned home and the Smile Train Bus was filled-up with gas in preparation for an even bigger following day.