Smile Train: Helping Cleft Patients Lead Normal Lives

Smile Train has changed the lives of more than 250,000 Chinese cleft patients during the past 13 years

Jun 13, 2012, 09:00 ET from Smile Train

BEIJING, June 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- "Help every cleft patient lead a normal life" was the new development mission proposed by Smile Train at their top management meeting recently held in Beijing, China. Compared with the previous development goal of "actively help each cleft patient", the new development mission is a greater challenge for Smile Train.


Headquartered in New York, USA, Smile Train is a philanthropic organization that provides free cleft repairing operations to poor patients of developing countries. Its sponsor is Charles B. Wang, the founder of Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA). "To smile is the right of each person and the goal we pursue is to look for a smile" was the vision of Mr. Wang when he established Smile Train. What Smile Train gives to cleft patients is not only a new smile but also a new and different life.

Wang Li (transliteration), a very ordinary girl in rural China, cannot lead a normal life and study like normal people due to her congenital cleft lip and palate. 13 years ago, Wang Li met Smile Train and became the first cleft patient aided by them both in the world and China, which was a turning point in her life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 250,000 children are born with cleft lip and palate in China. The total number of cleft patients in China is over one million who are suffering from torment of this defect. Since the surgery, Wang Li, as the "Smile Angel", has been to New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and many other places to make speeches and persuade more people to help Smile Train.

For cleft patients, a smile not only means being beautiful, making new friends and going to school, but it also means a life change for a child and their family. The latent smiles of all cleft patients are just waiting to bloom.

It is a challenge for Smile Train to conduct a free operation followed by recovery and speech therapy for each cleft patient. However, Mr. Charles B. Wang and the capable team at Smile Train have worked out a scientific coping mechanism: "Make full use of local recourses and realize self-service; do not send foreign doctors to perform the operation but provide skill training for local doctors; cooperate with the local government and relevant departments and implement deep and effective promotion."

After the first operation, Wang Li accepted a second free operation along with the increase of age. After that, her pronunciation and appearance have been improved greatly. She has not only successfully completed her course of study each year but has also traveled extensively to make speeches, thanking every kindhearted person who makes contributions, and aids other unfortunate children like her. In early 2012, Wang Li became a happy bride. She will give birth to a baby at end of 2012. Wang Li's experience exemplifies the goal of "help cleft patients lead a normal life".   

At present, Smile Train has helped children in more than 80 countries in the world. 700,000 cleft patients have been aided. Charitable donations over the past 13 years have reached more than RMB 1.2 billion in China and 250,000 cleft patients have been aided. Meanwhile, through cooperation with the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China, China Charity Federation, Chinese Stomatological Association and project cooperative hospitals, Smile Train has trained more than 12,000 health care assistants and brought advanced technology and scientific management methods to localities.

"Nothing is greater than retuning a smile to a child," says Smile Train founder Charles B. Wang. The change of mission from "providing free operations for cleft patients and training local doctors" to "helping each cleft patient lead a normal life" shows the resolution of a true philanthropist to change the world with love.

Smile Train has been widely recognized in China. As a charitable foundation for cleft lip and palate aid, the concepts, management mechanisms and achievements of Smile Train have not only promoted the positive development of Chinese philanthropy but also won the high praise and recognition of the Chinese government.

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Dr.Shell Xue

SOURCE Smile Train