Smile Train Programs Update

IMG_1181Mackinnon Engen serves as Vice President of Programs, helping to develop and strengthen Smile Train’s programs around the world to reach more children in need of cleft care. In her own words, she asked to give Smile Train supporters an update on her team’s plans for 2016.

I’m excited to share that we have already hit the ground running and have a number of exciting plans for Smile Train in 2016! Supporters of our programs often ask me what is new or coming down the pipeline, so I thought I would provide a sneak peek of a few new programs and efforts this year.

SNurse Training 300mile Train continues to invest more and more in our comprehensive care programs, such as speech therapy and orthodontics, so that all our patients can go on to live a full life. In January, Smile Train hosted its first speech therapy training in Ghana. With participants from across West Africa, the event helped pave the way for more children in the region to access critical speech services after their cleft surgery.

 

Haiti 300We are always aiming to grow our local partnerships with cleft teams so that we can help as many children as possible. Recently we launched new partnerships and programs in Haiti, Zimbabwe and the Dominican Republic. It is so inspiring to see the commitment these medical teams have to help children in their own communities. Smile Train’s support for surgery, training, equipment and other needs helps ensure that children no longer have to wait for life-changing treatment and their families can feel confident that the care being provided will be high-quality, safe, and completely free.

Awareness 300We work tirelessly to raise awareness about clefts as a treatable medical condition. The children we are trying to reach are often hidden away, shunned or isolated in their communities so our efforts to get the word out at the grassroots level are essential. This year, our Smile Train team in India has planned a series of cleft weeks across the country. While a child can get help from our programs all year round, a cleft week is a special time that the whole village comes together to help reach children with clefts in need. Our ambassadors and local partners spend time in the village market, places of worship, schools, and even going door to door in a campaign to educate the public about clefts and the opportunity for free treatment with a local Smile Train partner. These efforts help us reach hundreds more children who could otherwise remain left behind.

Here at Headquarters, we are also focusing on how we can continue to measure our impact and ensure that we are leveraging our donors’ support as best as possible around the developing world. We created and host the world’s largest cleft treatment database, Smile Train Express, so that we can track every single patient we serve and monitor the care they are receiving.  We are constantly updating this technology to ensure it meets our needs as our programs grow and expand, such as adding new features for speech therapy + orthodontics and adding new languages so it can be used seamlessly anywhere in the world.

While these are a few of our new efforts, one thing will never change: Smile Train and our partner hospitals around the world are working as hard as possible to make sure that each and every child with a cleft will receive the best possible care. We are looking forward to creating many more smiles together with you in 2016!

Eric Harr Power Of A Smile

Eric Harr HeaderThis is my beloved family. We’re all smiles, because we STAND with Smile Train!

What first inspired you to support Smile Train?
Our family has been aware of Smile Train’s heroic work for years. We’d see the ads in magazines, and show them to our children, Vivienne and Turner. We’d say “this is what compassion into action looks like. We are blessed, and it’s our responsibility to help others.” Then we’d write a check together and send it in.

Fast forward to the 2015 Clinton Global annual meeting, and there I am about to sit down to brunch for a plenary session. Who’s sitting to my left, but your extraordinary and wonderful CEO, Susie Schaefer. Total sweetheart. We hit it off immediately, because we were both…smiling! I’m serious! We put our compassion into action, right there, in this STAND.

What does the Power of a Smile mean to you?
Phyllis Diller said: “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” It really does—for the “smiler”—and the “smilee.” I don’t know of anything that easier to do and costs nothing—yet is priceless.

How has your involvement with Smile Train made you look at the Power of a Smile differently?
I look at the power of a smile differently in this way: one simple procedure can alter the trajectory of an entire life. I suppose you can measure that in better health, more education, etc. But you cannot measure the ripple effects of that new smile: the impact that person’s smile has on everyone around them, compounded over their entire lives. It’s beautiful when you think about it.

What keeps you wanting to stay involved with Smile Train?
1. The work. The direct line to impact. $250 for a new smile. It’s clear and compelling.

2. The people. The people behind Smile Train are passionate, smart, kindhearted—and fun! And that matters. It makes helping fun. That’s a good thing for everyone.

What has the Power of a Smile done for you in your life?
I’m a big smiler. I go around smiling and hugging people. It can be a little much for some folks, but I believe in the Law of Attraction (which isn’t some Pollyanna notion. It’s a scientific fact.) You get what you put out in the world. If you’re happy and smiling, your life will reflect that. Happiness is a choice—and they’re no easier way to be happy than to smile.

Smile Train Celebrates Partnership with Lifebox

Lifebox header
Smile Train thanks Lifebox for helping save lives and for being an invaluable partner over the past 4 years.

Since 2012, Lifebox has provided thousands of lifesaving pulse oximeters to Smile Train partners worldwide. The pulse oximeters measure the level of oxygen in a patient’s blood while under anesthesia during cleft surgery, sounding an early warning alarm if a patient is becoming short of oxygen and providing an opportunity to prevent brain damage and heart failure. Simply put, the pulse oximeters help save lives.

“This is a marvelous device that we use with all our surgical patients in the OR and post-operatively. It permits us to intervene to correct a problem much earlier than we were able to when relying on clinical signs. It is accurate, reliable, sturdy, simple to use by any level of healthcare worker and easy to teach. We send kudos to all who have contributed to this unique and worthwhile project. Many, many thanks for helping us and for the precious lives your efforts have saved.” Smile Train partner, Hôpital de District de Kolofata (Kolofata District Hospital), Cameroon

Chris Szydlo Power Of A Smile

Chris header
Former cleft patient and Smile Train company matching gift donor, Chris Szydlo, shares the reasons why he donates to Smile Train through his employer’s matching gift program.

What first inspired you to support Smile Train?
I was able to have three surgeries to correct my cleft lip because of my family’s healthcare plan—I know that others are not that fortunate. A new smile can restore the confidence of children ostracized for something completely out of their control. By giving them the ability to regain their pride and confidence, I know that we are making an immeasurable impact on them as individuals, their families and communities.

If you could give one piece of advice to a child with a cleft what would it be?
Stay positive and be proud of who you are. What makes you different can also be your greatest strength.

Why should others be inspired to donate to Smile Train?
Who doesn’t want to help someone smile? We spend money on presents, food, comedy shows, and an endless amount of other short-term means to make us smile. An investment toward a cleft surgery, through Smile Train, creates a smile for life!

What makes you smile?
Being able to make a positive impact in other people’s lives.

If you’re interested in your company matching your gift to Smile Train please visit smiletrain.org/donate/matching-gift.html