Smile Train: Beliefs and Benefaction Make a Better World

Oct 23, 2013, 10:00 ET from Smile Train

BEIJING, Oct. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For those devoting themselves to philanthropy and society's benefit, it's always hard to say what drove them toward this pursuit. But undoubtedly, they have propelled society forward. Whenever faced with difficulties, they always come up with new solutions instead of giving up. They keep marching forward until their dreams bloom in every corner of the world, until, in the words of Charles B. Wang, founding father and chairman of Smile Train, "When I leave, the world would be better than before."

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The World Needs Everyone's Helping Hands, not just Heroes

Dzachuka Plateau has an average elevation of over 4,300 meters, a limiting altitude for the permanent settlement of human beings, situated in Sichuan Province.

Here on this isolated plateau, people keep a pure traditional nomadic life, with limited transportation, communication and medical access, while education levels lag far behind those of the average village or town in more developed areas. Poverty-stricken, the local families can't afford treatment for children suffering from cleft palates, which brings anxiety to the Lahm (Tibetan for "angel-like") sisters who are officers of the local civil administration and personnel department. As the minority with a connection to the outside world through the Internet, they found the free assistance information of "Smile Train", an organization dedicated to treating poor children with cleft palates, and became determined then and there to find every cleft-palate child on the Dzachuka Plateau and bring them to Chengdu for surgical treatments.

The joint aid operation helped 17 children gain beautiful smiles over one and a half years. The divine power of humane care and overcoming obstacles that Chinese documentary filmmaker Wang Chongxiao saw here inspired him to record the entire process.

At the premiere of the film, Dzachuka's Smile, held in Beijing on September 27, the production crew and Lahm sisters met again. When asked what the biggest harvest of shooting this documentary film was, Director Wang replied, "The documentary tells families with cleft-palate children that they are not alone, and with only one minor surgery, the fate of their children would be changed. Our team that worked for this mission would gain honor from it."

When awarded the Outstanding Volunteer's Medal from Smile Train, the Lahm sisters said in tears of excitement, "We want to thank Smile Train and everyone for their quiet dedication. They reshaped many of our Tibetan children's lives!"

Beliefs and Good Thoughts should be Part of Each Public Welfare Charity

"Our beliefs are very powerful and have the power to create or to destroy us," said Charles B. Wang. "Fourteen years ago, Smile Train had a belief. We believe all children born with a cleft, no matter where he or she lives, no matter if they were rich or poor, can be given a second chance at life and become a useful and productive member of the society."

Smile Train, the biggest global cleft charitable foundation, began its first charitable relief work in China in 1999. Till now, it has provided free cleft and palate surgeries for almost 1 million cases in 87 countries all over the world.

Now in China, 14 years later, Smile Train is carrying out surgeries once every 5 minutes in 360 cooperating hospitals, helping 120 cleft patients regain smiles each workday and changing the lives of about 30,000 cleft patients each year. Among them are abandoned orphans, lonely juveniles isolated by their peers, rueful students who are forced to suspend their studies, overage youths who cannot get a job or a complete family, and the aged who don't have a sweet smile until in the late years of their life. However, heaven has endowed us with an opportunity to help and reshape their misfortune.

Social Innovation and the Power of Philanthropy

The management team of Smile Train China consists of only five people, which is hard to imagine even for an efficient management company. They position themselves as a management team on a charitable project, with ambitions of establishing offices in tens of countries all over the world; meanwhile, providing the best and most effective aid at the lowest cost. In their management philosophy, they believe that "Teaching to fish is more important than giving a fish" and that "God helps those who help themselves".

Smile Train hopes that surgical recipients could be stimulated and regain their vitality to help and to develop themselves. In China, Smile Train specifies its diagnosis and treatments through corporation with the Chinese State Population and Family Planning Commission; it runs its daily management, publicity and patient location through joint efforts with China Charity Federation. Moreover, Smile Train never sends for international doctors for local surgeries; instead, it bends itself to the cultivation of local doctors and health care workers. For that, it works with the Chinese Stomatological Association on a multitude of professional medical skills training sessions for cleft patients annually to improve the local medical level and to promote the development of its cleft program.

The most distinctive feature of Charles B. Wang's management is that Smile Train carries out its project management and training through high-tech means and the Internet. For example, the patient's case review and doctor's surgery simulation training can be implemented on the Internet. Smile Train is also a positive cooperator with the Chinese government, a typical model of social innovation and a vanguard of China's philanthropy.

When We Leave, the World could be Better than Before

Charles B. Wang thinks philanthropy is helping others sincerely. "Each time when I see healed children look into the mirror and find a sutured pretty face in the hospital, I can really feel that happiness they feel. For so long a time, I can still feel it. And I think that time is also the proudest moment of every staff in Smile Train."

We cannot watch as someone is suffering and indifferent. Perhaps, what he needs is just a greeting, a hug, or a comfort which shows that he is still cared for in this world. We can do something to make it a better world, and "If so, when we leave, this world would definitely be better than when we arrived."

SOURCE Smile Train