Posts May Contain Affiliate Links. See Disclosure. All opinions my own.

You Can Give The #PowerOfASmile

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smile Train. The opinions and text are all mine.

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. Smile Train provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their communities. I wanted to share with you about Smile Train because I personally know how devastating a cleft can be.

As a child, I had a severe speech impediment and could not correctly enunciate many special sounds. Few people could understand a word I said. My sister, Denyse, was my first interpreter. My speech impediment, and persistent ear problems, was caused by a submucous cleft palate, or hidden cleft, that wasn’t discovered by the doctors until I was almost six years old. When my speech wasn’t improving, Mom took me along for Denyse’s day long visit to the cleft palate clinic. Denyse had been born with a cleft lip and palate, and had already had hers repaired. This was one of those visits that consisted of visits with multiple disciplines. As each doctor filed into the room to examine my sister, Mom asked them to examine me. One by one, doctors looked and my mouth and saw nothing. Finally, one brilliant doctor stuck his thumb in my mouth and felt my palate and looked at my Mom with surprise and said, “She has a cleft!” Surgery soon followed, and the doctors told my Mom it could be a long while in speech therapy before my speech impediment was corrected. Shortly after surgery, my Mom asked me to say the tongue twister “Tommy Turtle tiptoed through town tossing apples upside down” for the doctor. Poor Tommy had been Mommy Myrtle forever, and mossing apples was never fun. For the first time in my life, though, I was able to say the tongue twister and actually be understood. I was only six, but I will never forget the feeling that surged through me knowing that others would understand what I said.

My sister and I were both very fortunate to be born to parents that not only had health insurance, but lived in an area where cleft repair surgery is easily accessible. Many children born with a cleft lip and/or palate are not so fortunate. Like the children of Natsir, a gentleman from Indonesia. Two of Natsir’s four children, Alwi and Winner, were born with clefts. After watching them deal with bullying, struggle with eating, and have trouble speaking, he and his wife became convinced their children were being punished for something he and his wife had done.

Natsir also blamed himself for being unable to afford the surgeries his sons needed. He grew up helping his mother in the family garden. Which meant delays in schooling. Graduating university too late to qualify for gainful employment, he stayed in poverty.

But that didn’t stop him from offering home-cooked meals to passersby. Strangers like tourist David Cogswell who, after meeting Natsir’s children, introduced him to Smile Train. His sons were treated by Dr. Senja Adianto and his team, and Natsir became determined to share what he’d learned with those out of Smile Train’s reach.

Today Natsir is an inspiring volunteer who overcomes doubts and concerns by using his own story as an example. Despite his meager income as a farmer and part-time English teacher, Natsir regularly travels to remote areas around his hometown in Indonesia where he persuades families of kids with a cleft to seek help. To date he’s helped 65 patients get cleft repair. Showing how even one person in a small village can make a big difference.

smile train logo

A Smile Train surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and can cost as little as $250 (£150). Smile Train has helped more than one million children in 15 years, but there are still millions of children living with unrepaired clefts.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if my cleft had gone unrepaired any longer. These kids shouldn’t have to, either!

Smile Train has a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Smile Train’s model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in developing countries provide 100%- free cleft repair surgery in their communities. Join us and change the world with the power of a smile.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smile Train. The opinions and text are all mine.

Posts may contain affiliate links. See Disclosure. All Opinions are My Own
About Virginia

Hi there! My name is Virginia, and I am the author/owner of That Bald Chick. I am a Christian, wife, mother of three, full time homemaker, homeschooler, and ministry volunteer in addition to being a blogger. In my free time *cough* I enjoy reading, writing, taking walks with my family, and listening to music.