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SMILE TRAIN: 5 Reasons to Give the Gift of a Smile this Christmas

CHRISTMAS and charity used to be intimately linked, but with high street shops and online retailers competing for your attention it can be very easy to forget that ‘tis the season of goodwill.’

For those who want to spread festive joy even further than the high street, donating to a charity or a good cause in place of a traditional present can be a very meaningful and thoughtful gift.

If you would like to donate to a charity on behalf of a family member or a friend this year, why not consider making a gift to Smile Train? Your gift will help spread some Christmas joy to children with clefts around the world who are in need of treatment.

There’s no better gift to give than a forever smile, and here are five reasons why:

1. CLEFT LIP AND CLEFT PALATE IS MUCH MORE THAN A COSMETIC CONCERN

It is often assumed that a cleft lip and cleft palate are purely a cosmetic concern. However, if left untreated, clefts can lead to a host of severe health problems – including difficulties with eating, breathing and speaking.

At Smile Train, we empower local medical professionals with the training, funding, and resources needed to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children living with clefts. Through this work, we are giving children around the globe the chance to eat, breathe and speak properly – so that they can enjoy their Christmas fully.   

2. CLEFT CARE IS DIFFERENT AROUND THE WORLD

In the UK, babies who are born with a cleft are treated immediately and for free on the NHS – however, in many resource-poor countries around the world, children are not as fortunate and do not have access to the same level of care.

For example, in many of these resource-poor countries, families do not have access to quality healthcare or the additional resources needed to help them pay for cleft repair surgery, meaning their child is left untreated.    

Our sustainable model brings a consistent level of care and skill to medical professionals in communities that may not have the same advantages as medical professionals in the UK do when it comes to proficiency so that more children can receive proper treatment. 

3. CLEFT CARE DOESN’T STOP AFTER SURGERY

Even post cleft repair surgery, facial disharmony or speech delay can complicate a child’s recovery process. Our comprehensive cleft care programmes include support for essential treatments beyond cleft repair surgery, such as nutritional support, orthodontic care, dental care, emotional support, and speech services.

This care helps to ensure long-term, successful rehabilitation for cleft patients, ensuring that they have the opportunity to live full and healthy lives.

4. CHILDREN WITH UNTREATED CLEFTS CAN FIND IT HARD TO BE ACCEPTED

Many people are shocked to learn that, in some countries around the world, children with untreated clefts can find themselves being isolated from their communities.

At Smile Train, we are working hard to ensure that every child with a cleft (no matter where they were born) has access to cleft treatment, so that no child feels alone – not just at Christmas time, but all year round.

5. YOU CAN CHANGE THE LIFE OF A CHILD LIKE NDINDA

Ndinda Kyalo was born in 2007 with a cleft lip in the village of Tala, Kenya. Many of the people living in this remote community incorrectly believed that her cleft lip was caused by superstition and as a result, the entire Kyalo family was shunned and ignored.

When Ndinda was four years old, children in the village taunted her by calling her by the name “Kilema” – a derogatory term for someone with a disability.

The years of social isolation and bullying finally ended after Ndinda’s parents heard a radio ad about Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery at nearby Makueni District Hospital. At the hospital, they found out that Ndinda was a perfect candidate for free cleft surgery. Two weeks later, she returned home with a new forever smile.

Today, Ndinda is a happy and well-liked student at St. Mary’s Primary School. Ndinda’s teacher Mary says that Ndinda is now full of confidence and the other students are drawn toward her positive personality. She adds that whenever the children sing songs, Ndinda always has the loudest voice.  

To make a gift and help a child like Ndinda this Christmas, please visit smiletrain.org.uk/donation

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