In my freshman year of high school, I became a student ambassador for Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that helps spread awareness about cleft palates and raises money for underprivileged children who cannot afford cleft palate repair treatment. Their mission to change the world one smile at a time resonated with me because I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and have first handedly experienced judgement from people who were not informed about the condition.
As an ambassador, my job is to teach my community about cleft lip and palates. In the past, I have set up informational booths at local Hindu temples in order to dispel the stigma of disabilities in the Indian culture. I also use this fundraising page as a platform to raise money and spread awareness about clefts to my friends and family.
In 2018, I was invited to the Annual Summit at Smile Train’s Headquarters in New York. I met other ambassadors who were born with cleft lip and palates like me, and worked with them to brainstorm ideas on how to educate our communities about clefts. The ambassadors and I also talked to a child who was undergoing treatment in Mexico via Skype. Seeing the donations I raised being used to create smiles made me realize that even small actions like a bake sale can have a big impact on someone’s life.
My job of informing my community and spreading awareness of Smile Train’s cause is never-ending. Helping other families afford cleft lip repair treatment allows me to express my gratitude for being able to afford treatment at a young age. When I became a Smile Train Ambassador, I put my community in my own hands and learned how to deal with world issues much bigger than myself. In passing along Smile Train’s mission to the people around me, I truly learned the power of a smile.
As a Smile Train High School Student Ambassador, I have decided to fundraise for Smile Train to help provide smiles to children in need. Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate.
Many children with clefts around the world live in isolation, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Cleft surgery is a safe, permanent solution with an immediate impact. Smile Train’s sustainable model provides training, funding, and resources to empower local doctors in 70+ countries to provide these lifesaving surgeries and other essential cleft care 100%-free, in their own communities.