The True Gift Of A Smile

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There is truly no better gift a child can receive than their very first smile.

One man who understands how powerful the gift of a smile can be is longtime Smile Train supporter and friend, Mr. Horace Whitmore. At 93 years young, Mr. Whitmore lives a quiet and simple life in California. He serves as a Deacon at his church and is an active member in his community. With roots in the South, he worked in the metals trade for many happy years.

His beautiful wife of 61 years, Catherine, passed in 2008. When he saw an advertisement about Smile Train he said, “To go through life without hope or help would be devastating for these kids. I have no children of my own, so it’s a way for me to help.”

With Mr. Whitmore’s 94th birthday quickly approaching he decided that this year he wouldn’t be the one receiving the gifts. Instead, he selflessly committed to helping 400 children with clefts get the best presents they could ever wish to receive: brand new smiles. In his own words, this was his way of “adopting 400 children!”2015022695183332

On February 11, 2015 Mr. Whitmore turned 94. To help celebrate his special day, our Smile Train partners around the world held birthday parties in his honor. Our patients, and their families, who directly benefit from Mr. Whitmore’s generosity were in attendance to eat cake, laugh, and best of all – smile.

I am often humbled, but never surprised, by the generosity of our supporters. It is because of this generosity that we are able to help so many children with unrepaired clefts receive the free surgery and related treatment they so desperately need.

In his own words, Mr. Horace Whitmore explains his very personal reasons why giving to Smile Train is so important to him:

“This world we live in is fleeting slowly surely passing away and one day all who have received the gift of life here on this earth will be changed into a new everlasting life —For God is the author and beginning of giving (John 3:16) . I believe that in some small way my giving what God has given me all belongs to him in the first place. I believe giving to Smile Train to help needy children change their lives from misery, heart aches and shame, to smile with joy and a thankful heart would please God and bring glory to his name. That would be worth more than all the riches that this world holds and that is my joy and hope.”

I hope that Mr. Whitmore’s story and his 94 years of smiles inspires you as much as it inspires all of us here at Smile Train.

Happy birthday Mr. Whitmore – thank you for helping us change the world one smile at a time!

Susannah Schaefer,
CEO, Smile Train

Accepting Bahati

Bahati 1Bahati was born at his mother and father’s home in Ushirombo, Tanzania. His parents were so shocked by his cleft lip and palate that they refused to raise him. They had never seen a child with an unrepaired cleft and believed their son was bewitched.

Bahati was passed to his grandmother, Justina. She said that Bahati struggled as a child because she could only feed him light porridge through a bottle. For three years Bahati lived in the same village as his parents, but they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. The couple even had a daughter they cared for in their own home.

When Bahati turned three-years-old, Justina took him to a local doctor to see if he could repair his cleft.  The doctor told Justina that Bahati’s cleft could be repaired and made arrangements for her to get to Smile Train partner hospital CCBRT.

When they arrived, Bahati was had a coughing fit and an asthma attack. Justina wouldn’t let it deter her from getting her grandson the help he needed, so they stayed at the hospital for two weeks until he was healthy enough for surgery.

After successful surgery, Justina said she was excited to go back to her village and show everyone how great Bahati looked. Justina said, “When we see my son and daughter-in-law at our local well, they will probably want to take him back; but I’ve spent the last three years raising Bahati and he is my son.”

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Story of Mursleen and Muntaha

Mursleen and Muntaha

Shahid, was living hand-to-mouth as a part-time electrician. Shahid married Shezana and the couple was blessed with two sons. Despite being poor, the family was happy that their sons would have the opportunity to grow up and become successful.

One year later, Shezana gave birth to Mursleen, a baby girl born with a cleft lip and palate. Both parents were despondent because they had never seen a child with a cleft before. Their neighbors and relatives started teasing them, saying that their baby girl was the punishment for their sin of pride.

Mursleen’s parents worried: Was this defect treatable? Who will marry her? How will she spend her life? Will she die?

Two years later, Shezana gave birth to another baby girl, Muntaha, who was also born with a cleft lip and palate. Shezana went into severe depression and became ill, most of the time she cried and cursed her luck.

One day Mursleen became very sick and her father took her to the local doctor in the village. When the doctor saw Mursleen’s face, he told him about free cleft surgery at a Smile Train partner hospital. When Mursleen felt better, the family traveled to Smile Train’s local partner hospital in Gujrat, Pakistan with both girls.

The family was very happy with the professional staff and were amazed that all the treatment was free. Both the girls had surgery on the same day, and both surgeries were a success.

Shahid said it was like a dream come true and Shezana was very thankful.  She said that Smile Train came in to their lives at their lowest point and now they are able to go home with a feeling of happiness that can’t be expressed in words.

Muntaha before

Muntaha before

Muntaha after

Muntaha after

Mursaleen before edited

Mursleen before

Mursleen after

Mursleen after

Jennifer: A Smile 45 Years in the Making

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It is true what they say; it’s never too late to start a new life. 45-year-old Jennifer says she lived a life of hardship and sadness until good fortune led her to Smile Train partner CoRSU Hospital in Katakwi, Uganda. It was a new smile a lifetime in the making.

Jennifer was the youngest of seven children and the only sibling born with a cleft lip and palate. Jennifer recalls her father trying to protect her from bullies growing up, but he did not always succeed, so she spent most of her time isolated at home. To make things worse, the family’s livestock was stolen and they were left destitute.

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As much as her father wanted to provide his youngest daughter with a smile, he did not have enough money to take her to the hospital when she was young.  Jennifer had been referred to the regional hospital to repair her lip, but they could not afford the transportation to get there.

When Jennifer reached her 45th birthday, she was unmarried with no children. Her father had discouraged Jennifer from getting married because he felt she would be mistreated. All of her siblings were married and had moved away while Jennifer still lived at home. After Jennifer’s parents passed away, she was left to live all alone in their small house.

Her life changed the day a CoRSU representative found Jennifer and brought her to CoRSU hospital for her free Smile Train cleft surgery. Five months after her surgery, Jennifer’s self-esteem has improved greatly.  For those who saw her before surgery, it is difficult for them to believe she is the same woman.  Now she can eat well, is no longer ridiculed, and says she is ready to make the most of the second half of her life.

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