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Smile Train, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Birth Defects & Genetic Diseases, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Health, International, International Development

Mission: Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with untreated clefts live in isolation, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training, funding, and resources to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care in their own communities. We use the “teach a man to fish” model focusing on training local doctors to perform cleft repairs in their communities. Those doctors then go on to train other doctors creating a long-term, sustainable system. Patients see their smile for the first time, parents cry tears of joy, lives and communities are changed forever. As a result of our efficiency and with the support of our donors and partners around the world, Smile Train has transformed the lives of more than one million children by giving them the power of a smile. Join us and change the world one smile at a time.

Results: Since its beginning in 1999 Smile Train has provided more than 1,000,000 free surgeries for children who would otherwise never have received it.

Target demographics: children suffering from cleft lips and palates

Direct beneficiaries per year: one child received cleft surgery every five minutes.

Geographic areas served: 85+ of the world's poorest countries

Programs: Globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft. While surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $250, it is out of reach for many in the developing world. Smile Train is an international children’s charity that provides 100%-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in 85+ developing countries. Our sustainable model empowers local doctors to provide cleft care in their own communities. Most children who are born with a cleft lip and/or palate develop normal speech once their palate is closed, but a significant amount will need further surgery or speech therapy. Communication problems that are addressed include language delay, articulation problems, and hypernasality. In the developed world, cleft repair is typically provided by multidisciplinary cleft/craniofacial teams comprised of professionals from a variety of healthcare backgrounds including surgeons and orthodontists who work on the child’s total rehabilitation. Smile Train provides vital dental and orthodontic treatment in countries where they are available. Smile Train provides essential free training and education to cleft surgeons and related medical professionals around the world. Since 1999, we have provided more than 66,000 free scholarships, surgical training resources, workshops, and symposiums for doctors and medical professionals from 140+ countries. Smile Train provides financial support that has been used for a wide range of applications, including new operating rooms, cleft surgical instruments and supplies like scalpels and sutures, crucial safety equipment like pulse oximeters, and much more. All of these investments make not only a significant number of incremental surgeries possible, but also make these surgeries safer and of higher quality. Smile Train has played an integral role in developing some of the most cutting-edge advances in cleft care, including the award-winning Virtual Surgery Simulator, which makes complex cleft surgical techniques seem simple to understand, and our Speech Therapy App, which helps children gain confidence in their verbal abilities in their own language. Smile Train's Medical Advisory Board (MAB) is comprised of the best and brightest cleft experts in the world, from maxillofacial surgeons to anesthesiologists to speech pathologists. The MAB compiles information for Smile Train to disseminate in an effort to raise awareness and change public attitudes about clefts. Smile Train is active in launching patient outreach campaigns in an effort to reach patients even in the most remote of areas. These include radio advertisements and programs, fliers, print advertising in local newspapers (with pictures so that even people who are unable to read can be reached), collaborations with other organizations for patient referrals, SMS/text message alerts, and much more. Some of our patients are so malnourished they are not healthy enough to receive surgery. In these cases, they are provided with food for one to two weeks before surgery. We also have patients that are so poor they have no money to get home after surgery. We have special programs that give small stipends to the poorest of the poor that allows them to receive their cleft treatments.

Community Stories

29 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experiences witnessing the barriers to dental care motivated me to become involved with the organization Smile Train. I have fundraised for treatment for children with clefts and provided literacy to the community about cleft conditions. My involvement with this organization not only fulfilled me deeply, but also gave me a background in oral and maxillofacial terminology while also improving my communication and teamwork skills. This experience will inevitably prepare me for a career as a dentist and help me reduce health-care disparities.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Although we make a modest living as a military family we have traveled the world and have seen first hand that there are less fortunate ones. So we have chosen to share our blessings with several worthy organization such as yours. Thank you for all you do. God Bless

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Been doing this for several years and the thought of how these dollars can change the direction of a child's life...IS ASTOUNDING! Great job to all!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We certainly endorse Smile Train's mission. Seeing the "before and after" photos was enough to convince us of the worthiness of our giving, and this same sort of photo "evidence" helps sustain our very positive attitude.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

this is the great nonprofit helping kids around the world
please donate

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Smile Train makes it easy to raise funds for them. Then they make good use of the funds we raise.

I believe my donations to Smile Train bring the highest return on investment of any donation i could make.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned about Smile Train when a relative was expecting a daughter with cleft lip/palate. I'd never thought about what a dismal future awaited kids with clefts--especially girls--in many cultures where the corrective surgery we take for granted in the U.S. is hardly available. I'm very impressed with the medical teams that pass their knowledge and skills to doctors in other countries--not just repairing clefts, but enabling local teams to continue the work. As far as I can tell, Smile Train efficiently uses donations, which are often multiplied by matching gifts, and is good about sharing the kids' and parents' experiences with donors. Smile Train is one of the two charities I regularly contribute to.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been donating for 19 years since my son was born (with a cleft pallet). Keep up the good work.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Smile Train is an organization that changes destinies--of the patients they treat and their families! The surgical outreach to these children to correct cleft palate and other facial birth defects allows people to live a normal social and medical life. Shame, abuse, rejection--finished. I support this charity because of the literal life-long difference it makes. Such an impact!! The before and after photos tell the tale!! Could any donation anywhere get more tangible or immediate results! Support Smile Train!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I consider it a privilege to support this non profit whose mission is to repair cleft lips or palates on a global basis. Prior to becoming a supporter in 2012, I viewed this condition as purely medical, however the Smile Train has helped me to understand how the work of it's doctors is invaluable in helping some cultures to overcome ignorance and superstition towards this condition. Without a doubt, this group has changed for the better many thousands of lives, and it operates in a very efficient manner. Rest assured I will continue to support this wonderful organization. Henry Halaiko Osprey, Fl. USA

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My brother was born in 1948 with a cleft palate & there was no SMILE TRAIN to help out. I have heard of some of the work they do & I think it's wonderful. Even though I can't make large donations, I do support them monthly & hope I can continue to do so for a long time.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I know for a fact that Smile Train is a reputable and dependable non profit. Once, a few years ago, I found out about a little girl in an orphanage in China who needed cleft surgery. A young friend of mine was volunteering there and I heard about this child through her. I decided to take a wild chance and contact Smile Train, Inc. because I'd donated to them for a while and wondered how they found out about the children they served. They wrote back and asked for the pertinent information concerning this child and I was able to find out all the details which I sent to them. To make a long, but wonderful, story shorter this little girl did receive her surgery from the doctors serving Smile Train, Inc. I'll always be grateful and amazed by that experience!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We actively support a number of charities for the benefit of children worldwide. We became aware of Smile Train and have been contributing regularly on a monthly plan since 2009. The services provided to the children with cleft problems is so special, and such a positive life changing experience for those fortunate enough to receive them. Smile Train's mission is unique and has a clear and direct impact on those it serves. It is very satisfying to be a contributing participant, and also to know that a high percentage of our support goes directly to mission services and not overhead. If we could support only one charity of this nature, it would be Smile Train. Larry and Danell Martin

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Smile Train is a great organization. They repaired our daughter's lip while she was still in China. Their work is very important and helps many children. Well worth your support.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Smile Train is 1 of my top 3 non-profits to support. Tangible results in a short amount of time. It's a "feel good" non-profit that changes the lives of the most vulnerable and gives them an opportunity to survive. Smile Train provides opportunities to double or triple your monetary impact and provides photos of the smiling faces of those who have been helped by compassionate brigades of doctors and nurses.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

These selfless doctors and aids provide an essential service. Lives are transformed, not just faces.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My brother now deceased brought Smile Train to my attention. Now every year I donate as this organization makes such a difference in the lives of so many children. Don't take my word for it go to there web site and look for yourself and see the remarkable work they do

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

From Chicago to Mexico
Graham Elliot Takes a Journey of Smiles to Visit Smile Train’s Local Programs in Mexico

I remember like it was yesterday… I arrived in Mexico City on my Journey of Smiles hosted by Smile Train (smiletrain.org), the world’s largest cleft charity, and was greeted by the most heartwarming welcoming party imaginable; a choral group of seven children, all of who had undergone surgery to repair a cleft lip or palate. I learned that not only did the singing boost the children's sense of self-esteem, but it also acted as a form of speech therapy that the kids actually enjoyed doing.

After the joyous singing and dancing came to end, a group of us drove out of the city to visit with Jasmine, a seventeen-year-old single mother of two. The newest addition to her family, a six-week-old baby boy name Ivan, was born with a cleft lip and palate. This was not caught during her routine ultrasound so it came as a total surprise, leaving Jasmine wondering what to do or where to even start.

At that very moment all I could think about was my son Conrad who was born with a bilateral cleft lip. My wife Allie and I were also caught off guard as we knew of nobody in our family that was born with a cleft. Our doctor at that time mentioned that a bilateral cleft could be indicative of Down syndrome, so we didn’t know what to expect or prepare for. Although we sympathized greatly with Ivan’s mother considering our similar situation, we reassured her that everything was going to be fine because she was in good hands with Smile Train. We even showed before and after photos of Conrad's surgery so she could get a sense of what to expect.

We're happy to say, little Ivan has received his first surgery. Allie and I are hoping to make it back down to Mexico City to assist in any way and be there for support. It's safe to say that Ivan will need some additional surgeries, but with Smile Train's outreach and ability to create sustainable ways to repair clefts, he's most certainly set up for success.
It was great to see firsthand that Smile Train is there to help turn those dreams into a reality. I am happy that I was also able to share my story with one of Smile Train’s patients while in Mexico, giving them comfort in knowing that they are not alone. All parents want the same thing for their children – a long, happy and healthy life.

(Photo Credit: Baby Ivan and me just after I finished giving him his midday bottle.)

Review from #MyGivingStory

1 Claire27

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have chose this charity as it's a life changing operation which is simple. I was lucky to have free surgery in the UK after being born with a cleft lip and palate ,but so many children are left in isolation with untreated clefts.
The operation gives a immediate transformation and children see their smile for the first time. I am pleased to say I am supporting this charity fundraising by taking part in a event locally in Cornwall near lands end. Looking forward to giving the children the power to smile.

64

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

$250 per child.
approximately 120,000 children helped last year.
That's $30,000,000.
They raised almost $200,000,000 according to Forbes.
They spend $170,000,000 on everything, except helping the kids.
Only 15% of the money goes to the kids.

28

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I am very disappointed in this organization. I understand that children have this and it can be pretty bad as my son was born with cleft lip and palate but I called to do the donation to give back to what I have paid so much in medical for and not just medical but it is all around for them with dental and all. I called and they told me that they don't make any contributions within the United States to the families that really need the help here. As when my son had his. We are still paying some of the medical bills for it and will until after he turns 18. He has had right now two surgeries and is turning around for a possible third reconstruction. It amazes me that we have so many children that need this in the states to know that they are not and will not even try to help with the surgeries here. I had these specific questions before I even would consider donating and was very disappointed. There is so much more that can be done here to help fellow Americans as well. I am disappointed that they are taking money from the all of us to send overseas to help children there when children as my son could have used the help for it as well. Very disappointed with this charity.