There are approximately 4,800+ children born with a cleft lip and/or a cleft palate in the Philippines each year. Due to challenges with poverty, sadly many of these children do not have access to safe and quality cleft care. If left untreated, these children will face serious health and survival issues – including the ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive.
At Smile Train, we empower local medical professionals with training, funding and resources so that they can provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.
We established our first hospital partnership in the Philippines back in 2002. Since then, we have partnered with more than 75 cleft surgeons in over 135 partner hospital across the Philippines – and our local medical professional partners have provided more than 50,000 free, high-quality cleft surgeries.
Take the story of Gracee as an example. Gracee was born with a cleft lip and palate in the Philippines. Sadly, because of her facial difference, she was incessantly bullied growing up.
“When I was a child, I was upset when other children used to bully me – my friends and mother would tell me to ignore what they were saying, but I would usually just isolate myself or cry”
The bullying eventually stopped when Gracee received a Smile Train-supported cleft surgery at a local hospital. Today, she is confident and happy and is dedicated to serving others as a perioperative nurse at a Smile Train partner hospital near to where she lives.
Gracee is proud to have a career helping children with clefts. She said:
“Many children have benefited from Smile Train’s support and now have their forever smile. It’s hard to live with an untreated cleft and it’s not easy to live a normal life without having had this surgery.”
In celebration of our work with people like Gracee, we are inviting the UK public to join us on a Journey of Smiles in the Philippines this November.
This once in a lifetime opportunity (taking place from 3rd – 8th November 2019) will offer supporters the chance to visit some of our local partner hospitals in the Philippines, where they can meet with our partner surgeons who are providing life-changing cleft treatment – as well as the children who are benefitting from our programmes.
Registration to be a part of this journey closes on 31st July 2019. The 5-day schedule is as follows:
DAY 1 – Arrive in Manila and settle in. Enjoy a welcome dinner with the group.
DAY 2 – Tour the Mabuhay Desert Foundation, a Smile Train partner and the largest surgical charity in the Philippines. Visit Our Lady of Peace Hospital to meet their cleft team in Paranaque City.
DAY 3 – Visit Smile Train programme at the Philippines Band of Mercy Hospital, Quezon City and spend time with cleft patients and medical staff.
DAY 4 – Enjoy a relaxing day learning about local history and culture and enjoy the waterfalls at the stunning Villa Escudero Plantation.
DAY 5 – Visit a Smile Train patient’s home and hear directly from the patient and their family about their experience with cleft. Finish up with a tour of the historic walled city of Intramuros.
DAY 6 – Transfer to the airport for your international departure – or – onwards for an extension trip.
To learn more about the Journey of Smiles in the Philippines, or to take part, visit our website here: smiletrain.org/get-involved/journey-of-smiles/philippines-2019