Jasmine Wang: Seeing is Believing

Jwangheader.jpgJasmine 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.

Lila 300.jpgMy 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.

Smile House 300.jpgA 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.

Lynda Wilson: A Lifetime of Giving Smiles

candle header 2In early February, Smile Train supporter Lynda Wilson peacefully passed away surrounded by her loved ones. Lynda’s son Stuart shares, in his own words, some of the things he learned about his mother in her last days.

When my mum knew she wasn’t going to be with us for much longer, her strength and character showed through in many ways – it was very inspiring. One of her wishes was for her friends and family to give to a cause that would help others after she was gone – she was always thinking of others before herself.

As a nursery nurse, mum devoted her working life to helping children. She taught them to read, spell, add up, and taught them how to overcome challenges in their lives. She made them smile with her kindness and care.

One story she shared with me was from when she was just 16-years-old. At the time, she was a nursey nurse trainee and she started looking after a baby with a cleft palate. The baby had been abandoned at the hospital by her mother, but luckily the child’s father stepped in and committed himself to looking after his daughter. When the father had to work, he brought his newborn to mum’s nursey and mum cared for her.

My mum described the baby as having the most beautiful eyes. It was clear that even 50 years later the unfairness of the child’s abandonment was still something that made mum sad. She wanted friends and family to donate to a charity that would help treat children born with clefts. No child should have to suffer through this correctable condition or, even worse, be abandoned or neglected by their parents and society.

Mum’s kindness has already helped to raise more than £600 for Smile Train, and I hope that we will add even more smiles to that total.

If you would like to donate to Lynda’s memory visit Justgiving.com/LyndasSmiles/