An Engaging Smile

DSC04413DSC04759

Agra, India—Growing up in a Noorpur, India, a small village in the northern part of the country, 40-year-old Madhuri learned to accept her cleft lip as her parents could never afford the simple surgery that would help her. Like many people living with cleft, Madhuri lived a life deprived of self-confidence and respect. Despite this she was able to marry and have a family of her own. Her husband, working odd jobs as a manual laborer, also could not provide the funding needed to repair his wife’s cleft.

An already difficult life became even more so when her eldest son began seeking a wife. As is the custom in Madhuri’s village, when young men are ready for marriage, eligible bachelorettes visit their homes to meet the entire family. Unfortunately, those who knocked on Madhuri’s door to meet her son, refused to marry him after meeting Madhuri. No one wanted to marry into a family whose matriarch had a cleft. Seeing her son suffer the way he had made Madhuri desperate to find treatment.

Not long after, treatment found her. Two volunteers from a Smile Train partner over 150 miles away, Saraswat Hospital, were in Madhuri’s village as part of an outreach program to find more cleft patients. Madhuri described their arrival as a “God-send.” Soon after meeting the two volunteers she was on her way to Saraswat Hospital where she had her cleft repaired.

Madhuri happily reported back to our partner hospital that potential wives have begun visiting her son again. Giving her even more reasons to smile.

Argos High School Students Bake for Smile Train

The Argos High School MoCD class pose for a photo. Back row:  Angela Walker (Aide), Ty Thompson, Angela Resendez (Aide), Logan Lynd, Ian Swafford and Avram Beers. Front Row:  Jackey Ritenour (Aide), Brittay Morris, Jakob Cybulski, Marissa Perkins and Mary Wojdyla (Head Teacher).

The Argos High School MoCD class pose for a photo. Back row: Angela Walker (Aide), Ty Thompson, Angela Resendez (Aide), Logan Lynd, Ian Swafford and Avram Beers.
Front Row: Jackey Ritenour (Aide), Brittay Morris, Jakob Cybulski, Marissa Perkins and Mary Wojdyla (Head Teacher).

Argos, IndianaAngela Resendez, a special education aide at Argos High School, writes about her students’ fundraising efforts for Smile Train.

Argos High School student, Jakob Cybulski, makes the muffins to support Smile Train.

Argos High School student, Jakob Cybulski, makes the muffins to support Smile Train.


Argos High School is located in Northern Indiana and is the epitome of a small town. Our special education class makes muffins every Wednesday in order to allow our class to go on field trips. For six weeks out of the year we sell our muffins to our elementary, junior high, and high school students, faculty, staff, and surrounding residents. All the proceeds raised during this time go to Smile Train!
This is our second year of fundraising and we raised enough money for two operations, with our class matching the amount of one operation, for a total of three operations! The Argos Dragon MoCD class will have sponsored six operations for Smile Train so far, with hopes of sponsoring more in the future! We are so proud of our students and their continued support of this truly worthy cause.

For Wayan’s Parents, Paradise is in their Child’s Smile

Wayan Arsa Diprasta, held by his mother, Ni Nyoman Sulatri, plays with an employee of the Smile Train partner hospital where his cleft was repaired, Yayasan Senyum Bali.

Wayan, held by his mother, Ni Nyoman Sulatri, plays with an employee of the Smile Train partner hospital where his cleft was repaired, Yayasan Senyum Bali.


Tabanan, Indonesia Smile Train staff member Emily Dakin recently visited Smile Train partner hospital Yayasan Senyum Bali in Indonesia. While examining best practices in administration at partner hospitals, she had the opportunity to visit patients and their families with staff members. Upon her return from Indonesia she shared her experience.

When you hear someone talk about Bali, thoughts of a tropical paradise with pristine beaches and the greenest landscapes imaginable come to mind. Every guidebook talks about how gracious, warm and religious the people are. You can’t help but think that anyone who lived in such a heavenly place would be anything but happy. And you can’t imagine that anywhere on the island doesn’t live up to this ideal.

Wayan's street is home to a community of 35 people who all share one, outdoor toliet.

Wayan’s street is home to a community of 35 people who all share one, outdoor toliet.

Over an hour away from luxury hotels and major tourist areas, I met one-year-old Wayan Arsa Diprasta and his family. After driving across narrow bridges, hairpin turns, and uneven roads, we finally reached his small compound within the town of Tabanan called Desa Marga Dajan Puri. In order to reach Desa I walked up a steep, dusty, dirt hill to reach a small road with about 10 modest homes built around a small shrine. Each house had just two rooms and very limited electricity. There was one outdoor toilet and faucet for the 35 residents of the compound. Their small space shared with the ducks, chickens, and emaciated dogs that freely wander around. This was not the tropical paradise that everyone envisions.

I was greeted by a small group of villagers, including Wayan’s parents, his father, Wayan Suarsa, a non-permanent day laborer, and, his mother, Ni Nyoman Sulatri, a housewife. We were immediately surprised by their happy and friendly disposition. It was such a sharp contrast to the surroundings. They insisted that we take the iced tea and boiled tubers (potato-like food) that they offered us as they told us the story of their son.

Wayan and his father, Wayan Suarsa

Wayan and his father, Wayan Suarsa.

They were surprised when Wayan was born with a cleft lip and palate as no one in their family had been born with the condition before. As paying for surgery was out of the question, the family was thrilled to learn about the free treatment that their son could get through Yayasan Senyum Bali. However, since the foundation was over an hour away, Wayan’s family had to borrow a motorcycle to get to the market in town. And from there, they had to take a van to the main terminal, and then three minibuses to get to the hospital in Denpasar. But they didn’t complain. They were so grateful that their son could receive treatment – that was all that mattered to them.

I’ve never seen a baby as happy as Wayan. He was thrilled to interact with so many people and wasn’t afraid to reach out to be held by us… or to grab our sunglasses! He couldn’t stop giggling despite the hot, dusty air. And I’ll never forget how gracious and welcoming his family was. It made me realize why the Balinese people are so spiritual and devoted. It’s not just because of their amazing island, it’s because they are grateful for every gift that they are given, no matter what other struggles they have to endure.

A cleft surgery does more than save a child’s life. A cleft surgery gives them the opportunity to smile no matter what difficulties they’ll have to face in their lives. Wayan and his family have witnessed a miracle and now all of them will be smiling and laughing no matter what life brings them.