The Kindness of Strangers

Smile Train patients, brothers Winner Ramadhan and Achmad Alwi before and after free cleft lip surgery

Brothers Winner Ramadhan (top) and Achmad Alwi (bottom) before and immediately after free cleft lip surgery

Sulawesi, Indonesia — anyone who has ever been helped by a complete stranger knows just how much that kindness can impact their lives, but few get the chance to repay those who helped them. David Cogswell, a Princeton Fellow teaching at the Anglo-Chinese Junior College in Singapore, recently traveled to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where he met a poor, local English teacher and farmer named Natsir.

“Natsir showed genuine compassion and hospitality to my friend and me, opening up his home to us, introducing us to his family, and sharing what little food he had to make us feel welcome as his guests. Yet I was deeply affected when I saw his youngest son’s cleft, given the lack of cost-effective medical care in the region.”

When he returned, David reached out to his mother, a speech pathologist in the U.S., to see if she knew where to find help. She contacted Smile Train Regional Director Simon Tobing and Program Manager Deasy Lasarati who were able to track down Natsir soon after. To their surprise, both of Natsir’s sons had cleft lips. On January 14th, Winner Ramadhan and his older brother Achmad Alwi received free surgery under skilled surgeon Dr. Senja Adianto. They’ll soon both be smiling thanks to Smile Train donors, staff, David, his mother, and their father’s kindness. This wonderful news will carry further as David is spreading the word about Smile Train’s programs to his network of teachers in Southeast Asia to reach even more children.


We just received this thank you note from Achmad Alwi and had to share it.

Smile Train patient Achmad Alwi sends his thanks for his free cleft surgery

On behalf of everyone in the Smile Train family, you’re more than welcome Achmad. We couldn’t be happier for you and Winner!

One thought on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Donating to Smile Train is one concrete thing we can do to help the children of the world. Smile Train is organized and ready to go. I wish I had a million to give.


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