Jasmine Wang, Associate, Marketing and Communications, shares how her feelings about the Power Of A Smile have changed since returning from visiting local Smile Train medical partners in Indonesia.
I’ve been a Smile Train supporter for as long as I can remember and I’ve had the privilege to work as part of Smile Train’s marketing department for almost two years — I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Power Of A Smile. But after visiting Smile Train partners in Indonesia, I know that posting a photo on social media isn’t the same as seeing the joy in a mother’s eyes firsthand. Reading and sharing patient stories pales in comparison to actually holding a child in your arms whose entire life has changed thanks to a simple cleft surgery.
My journey started with Smile Train partner hospital RS. Permata Sari in Semarang where I met several families who had traveled from all over the region for cleft surgery. One of the patients was a 6-year-old girl named Lila. Lila was born with a cleft lip and palate, but fortunately found Smile Train and was able to received surgery as a baby. You can now barely tell that she has ever had a cleft. Lila also was kind enough to sing a song for us, and she has a beautiful singing voice, and the confidence to match. Although I was nervous before I got to the hospital, seeing how happy and brave Lila was singing in front of a room full of people made me instantly feel more at ease.
A few days later, I flew to Bali to visit The Smile House. The Smile House is an amazing organization that provides cleft patients waiting for and recovering from surgery a free place to stay, speech therapy classes, and feeding trainings. I met a 24-year-old man who was about to receive his first cleft lip surgery the next day. He lived in a very remote village and said that he had no idea that cleft surgery even existed. It’s sad that he felt like an outsider for so long, but he was so excited about returning to his village with a new smile and a brand new start.
I could go on and on, about all of the amazing people that I met, but the moral would remain the same — a new smile is a powerful thing. A new smile helped to give Lila the confidence to sing, and all of the children from The Smile House a chance to stop hiding in isolation. Cleft repair surgery, and the new smiles it gives, allows children to live the full lives that they want and deserve.