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November 11, 2011 / charityprofiles

Building a Train of Smiles

“One charity. One problem. One goal. 100,000 free cleft surgeries a year,” is how Smile Train sums up what it does on its website. The organization’s mission is to “provide a child born with a cleft the opportunities in life as a child born without.”

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, cleft lip and cleft palate “are birth defects that affect the upper lip and the roof of the mouth. Symptoms: A child may have one or more birth defects. A cleft lip may be just a small notch in the lip or a complete split.”

While many may believe that cleft birth defects are merely a cosmetic problem, the truth is that they can cause difficulties in proper feeding and speaking, lead to ear infections and may also affect the way a nose grows and changes as a person with cleft birth defects ages. People with cleft birth defects often are smaller and less developed than their peers due to feeding difficulties.

In developed countries, cleft birth defects are corrected soon after the baby is born. However, in developing countries this is not always the case. Smile Train works tirelessly at helping these children who would otherwise receive no assistance. The surgery is relatively simple and costs as little as $250 each; Smile Train likes to remind donors that even small donations can have a huge impact.

When one considers how large of an impact a simple $250 donation can make it is hard to understand why more people are not giving to this cause. After all, the need will never go away as long as there are still children being born with cleft palate or cleft lip. Many of us here in the west and the U.S. will drop $250 for some botox that will merely temporarily freeze our flesh to keep it wrinkle free. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were as open to giving $250, to give a kid a natural life?

To learn more about Smile Train, visit:

  • Video: Smile Train in India
  • Video: Smile Train in Inner Mongolia
  • Video: Jane Kaczmarek on Smile Train
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