The Worth of a Smile

Smile Train Shubhangi before and after her free cleft surgery

Maharashtra, India — For many of our donors in the United States $250 is a generous amount of money. But in the United States, it is often difficult to realize just what $250 can do. What the cost of just a cup of coffee can mean when that’s all a family makes per day. When a cup of coffee can cost $5 in a U.S. city, just a month of morning coffee can give a child a world away a brand new smile and a brand new life.

For Shubhangi who lives in Maharashtra, India, a smile is worth so much more than a few cups of coffee. Shubhangi’s father works at a grocery store and is lucky to earn 150 rupees a day. That’s only $2.78! Shubhangi’s family could never have dreamed of saving enough money to pay for a cleft surgery.

Shubhangi, a bright nine-year-old girl, longed to be like all the other children in her neighborhood. But throughout her entire life, she was never allowed to be like the other children because her school district refused to allow her to attend school. So instead, Shubhangi, being the bright, young girl she is, persisted. She did her best to learn what she could and studied the books that her seven-year-old brother brought home.

Luckily, Shubhangi’s father came across a local doctor who had heard of Smile Train, and referred him to our partner, Sanveevani Criticare & Research Centre in Naski, India. Thanks to Smile Train, and the doctors who work to spread the word in their communities, Shubhangi was able to receive free cleft surgery. Three months later, we were lucky to get a glimpse of her new smile and the absolute joy on her face when she let us know that she would finally be allowed to go to school!

Shubhangi’s new smile is truly a shining example of what a dollar can do a world away and how easy it is to give a young girl a new life and future!

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