Stuart Hall School for Boys holds 9th annual Smile Train fundraiser

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New Orleans, LA- Karen Vincent, Middle School teacher at Stuart Hall School for Boys writes about her students’ fundraising efforts for Smile Train. They have raised enough funds to provide more than 100 free cleft surgeries.

For nine years now, the sixth grade men of Stuart Hall School for Boys have sponsored a lemonade sale during the month of October to benefit Smile Train. At our school, we work each month on a quality that we would like to improve in ourselves and each is sponsored by a grade level. Ours is Compassion – we do our best to raise as much money as possible through both our lemonade sale and private donations to fund new smiles for children we will never meet, but whose lives will be forever changed by our actions.

I am continually surprised at how generous these men are. We only charge 25¢ for a cup of iced cold lemonade (it’s HOT here until at least Thanksgiving), but almost every child will put in a dollar and say, “Just keep the change for those kids.” Many will bring in their allowance or the contents of their savings bank. It’s truly impressive.

During our Monday chapels in October, we inform the student body about Smile Train and their efforts, so they are well acquainted with what a cleft is and how it affects someone’s life. In the spring of this year, Caitlin Roarke, Manager, Community Relations from Smile Train came to visit us. When she asked the students if any of them knew what a cleft was, every hand in the chapel went up! Later she told me that it kind of threw off her speech that she had prepared – the men of Stuart Hall KNOW about Smile Train!

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University of Cincinnati’s Greek Community Raises 58 Smiles at Ginger Greek 2015

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University of Cincinnati’s Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity recently held their 5th Annual Ginger Greek Competition to raise funds for Smile Train. Ginger Greek is a holiday-themed philanthropy that invites student organizations to compete in a holiday movie trivia night, a Santa run, and ginger bread house competition over a three day period.

More organizations are attending Ginger Greek every year and the event is quickly becoming a campus institution. This wildly successful event started with humble beginnings, as an idea from former Sigma Phi Epsilon president, and former cleft patient, Mark Kroger. Mark wanted to raise funds for children living with unrepaired clefts and realized that the holidays were the perfect time to bring people together in the spirit of giving.

The fraternity has continued the tradition with the help of Mark’s younger brothers, who also became members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. “Over the past five years our fraternity has helped children, who we’ll never meet, have the opportunity to live a more normal life,” said Mark.

Ginger Greek 2015, raised enough for 58 new smiles. Smile Train would like to thank the Kroger family, University of Cincinnati students, and the brothers at Sigma Phi Epsilon, for changing the world one smile at a time.

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Jeff Gardner Power Of A Smile

Jeff Gardner Family 12.2.15Smile Train matching gift donor, Jeff Gardner, shares the reasons why he donates to Smile Train through his employer’s matching gift program.

What does the “Power of a Smile” mean to you?
A smile is very powerful. A smile conveys inner strength and happiness. A smile can bring joy to anyone who is giving or receiving it. A smile can opens doors and conversations into other people’s worlds–I think my wife first liked me for my smile.

If you could give one piece of advice to a child with cleft what would it be? 
Never give up hope. Keep the faith that one day soon you will be able to have life-changing surgery.

What first inspired you to support Smile Train?
Once I learned that a cleft lip and palate could be repaired with a relatively simple surgery, and that Smile Train attends to the cleft children’s emotional and physical needs– I knew that a donation would be immensely rewarding for me. What better gift is there than to give the chance to provide life-changing surgery and follow-up care for a child and his or her family?

What was it about Smile Train that stood out to you from other charities? 
The structure and goal of the organization for providing not only the surgery but the necessary support and care leading up to and after the surgery.  The goals of the 3-dimensional virtual surgery simulator program exemplify Smile Train’s goals for education and teaching.

Why do you take advantage of your employer’s matching gift program? 
I was so excited when I learned that my pharmaceutical company had a matching gift program. I knew that company match contributions to Smile Train would be a great way to double my impact to help children.

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

Julieanne Wallace-Jones Power Of A Smile

Julieanne2Julieanne and her husband Nigel, from Bromborough in Wirral, have always loved to host parties for their family and friends. But after receiving a Smile Train leaflet through the letter box in 2011, they decided that these parties could serve an even greater purpose – to raise money for children suffering from cleft lips and palates in the developing world. We recently caught up with Julieanne to hear more about her fundraising parties.

Can you tell us more about your parties?
Nigel and I started hosting Smile Train parties roughly five years ago with a small party in the garden. We decided to ask for donations instead of people bringing presents. The first party was so successful that we have hosted one every year since, and each year the guest list just keeps growing.

Tell us about your 60th Birthday Party
We had more than 60 guests, who each donated £20 to attend. We also had small fees to participate in our party games and raffle. Altogether, we raised £2,550 –  enough money to cover the surgery costs for 18 children born with cleft lips and palates!

Why do you continue to support Smile Train?
We enjoy raising money for an excellent charity like Smile Train because we know that a relatively small amount of money can change the lives of the children they help. All of us living in the UK have so much to be thankful for. It is wonderful to be able to help others in this way and have a great party at the same time.

What makes you Smile?
Hosting parties. There’s nothing nicer than getting all your friends and family together – the house just comes alive!

Julieanne

Dr. Esther Njoroge Power Of A Smile

IMG_4364 (2)Dr. Esther Nyambura Njoroge, Regional Director, Smile Train Africa talks about what the Power Of A Smile means to her.

What first inspired you to work at Smile Train?
I studied medicine so I would be able to work for an organization that transform children’s lives. When I read about Smile Train’s work in Africa I knew that was where I wanted to be. Working with Smile Train helps me change the world, in my own small way.

How has your involvement with Smile Train made you look at the Power Of A Smile differently?
We take a lot of life’s gifts for granted.  Meeting and interacting with patients born with cleft lip and/or palate has made me appreciate my ability to smile. A smile is like an invitation to invite someone into your life. Giving cleft patients the power to interact with their community is a gift like no other.

What keeps you involved in Smile Train?
I wake up every day with purpose and go to bed every night satisfied that I have changed a life forever. I love when I see the joy in a mother’s eyes the moment they see their child after surgery—I’m so grateful to Smile Train for allowing me be a part of a miracle.

Frozen by Fear: Sophia’s Story

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Mohammed Nisar and his wife never learned how to read when they were growing up in Southeast Pakistan. This made it difficult to find steady work and provide for their growing family. So Mohammed took a job as a rickshaw driver, primarily to pay for his children’s educations. It was very important to them that all of their children would grow up with the ability to read and have the opportunity to be prosperous.

When Mohammed’s wife gave birth to their fifth child Sophia, the family was shocked to see she was born with a cleft lip and palate. The little money they had went toward paying for Sophia’s siblings’ educations, and the price of cleft lip and palate surgeries for Sophia was completely unattainable.

As Sophia grew older, she avoided everyone she encountered. When she left the house, she buried her face in her mother’s dress or walked with her hands covering her face. When she was old enough to attend a local school with her siblings, Mohammed said that Sophia was immobilized with fits of anxiety and she refused to leave her home.

At nine-years-old, Sophia had a fortunate encounter at a local market with a representative from local Smile Train partner CLAFT. Dr. Zubair A. Abbasi recalls, “Sophia suffered from psychosocial problems. She was very nervous when we met and she was constantly covering her cleft lip with her hand.” The doctor invited Sophia and her mother to a local clinic and she was approved for her Smile Train sponsored cleft lip and palate surgeries.

SophiaThe surgeries were successful and Sophia got her beautiful smile back. “Sophia was a totally changed girl when I saw her last. She was smiling, did not cover her face, and had complete confidence,” said Dr. Abbasi. Mohammed recently visited the clinic to thank Smile Train and CLAFT. He said that Sophia can freely leave their home and has decided that she is ready to go to school. Now Mohammed’s dream that all of his children will be able to read and have the opportunity to be prosperous is finally a reality.

22 Years of Fear

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When Allo Charles was born with cleft lip, his parents recognized what the condition was, but had never personally seen it before. The children in their village who were previously born with cleft lip or palate were either in hiding or had been killed. Clefts in this village, in rural Chad, are seen by the villagers as a bad omen and are considered a punishment from God for the family’s sins. After Allo was born with a cleft lip, his parents quickly decided that every child is a gift and they would openly raise Allo in their community, without shame.

Almost immediately, there were harsh consequences. Allo’s family wasn’t allowed to attend village meetings, and they were socially ostracized. Allo remembered, “I couldn’t eat or play with others because their parents wouldn’t let their children get close to me. There were several superstitions about my cleft, and they even made me believe some of them. I thought I was cursed.”

When Allo attended primary school, he said that his fellow students and teachers made his life miserable. They said his education was a waste of time and he would never amount to anything. “School for me was hell, but living with an unrepaired cleft made me strong. The more I was insulted, the more I wanted to prove them wrong and make something of my life,” said Allo.

Allo thought that secondary school might be his chance for a better life. The day he left his village for a room in the much larger city of N’Djamena, his new landlord wouldn’t allow Allo to move in. The landlord said that his children were afraid of Allo and he did not want them to catch his disease. Allo decided to move in with his cousin while he figured out what to do next.

Fortunately, during this downtime from school, he saw a Facebook post from Smile Train partner WECCARE  Foundation. He thought the offer of free cleft surgery was too good to be true, but decided to go to WECCARE  after seeing the program was endorsed by the First Lady of Chad. “On that day, for the first time in my life, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. There were dozens of people who looked just like me at the hospital.” Three days later, Allo received his Smile Train sponsored, free cleft surgery.

Allo Now Allo says he wants to repay Smile Train and WECCARE’s  wonderful gift of a new smile by going back to school and becoming an advocate for children with cleft lip and palate living in Chad.