Home COLUMNISTS SMILE TRAIN: Our 20 year journey – Starting with a smile

SMILE TRAIN: Our 20 year journey – Starting with a smile

2019 marks 20 years since Smile Train was founded. Over the last two decades, we have grown to become the world’s leading cleft charity, and have provided support for more than one million children with clefts to date – by helping them to receive the life-changing cleft repair treatment and comprehensive cleft care that is essential for them to lead healthy and productive lives.

Our model of empowerment is completely unique, in that it helps to support the training, education, and resources needed for local medical professionals to be able to offer free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children living in their own communities. This fosters a truly sustainable system of quality health care for those children who are in need, whilst empowering them with a brand-new forever smile.

In addition to cleft repair surgery, over the past 20 years, we have also developed our comprehensive cleft care programmes to include pre-surgery and post-surgery treatments – such as nutrition programmes, dental and orthodontic care, speech therapy, and social and emotional support – to ensure the best possible rehabilitation for patients.

Reflecting on the last 20 years, our CEO, Susannah Schaefer, says:

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“Smile Train’s treatment programmes have grown significantly over the last 20 years. From humble beginnings in the United States, we are now a global charity supporting more than 1,100 partner hospitals and more than 2,100 medical professionals worldwide.

“Thanks to generous supporters and fundraisers, every day the lives of children with clefts are changed forever, and local communities are empowered to care for their own.

“As we look to the future, we are focused on the impact that comprehensive cleft care has on a child’s life, and what we can do to ensure that our programmes continue to grow globally to serve as many children in need as possible.

“For us, the journey to a full, healthy life truly does start with a smile. We’re so very proud to say that we have enabled more than one million smiles to date, and can’t wait to create many, many more in the years to come.”