Monday 13 June 2011

£440 raised for Smile Train

As you may know, there's a charity we support called The Smile Train. As you can imagine when you first get the news that your baby will be born with a cleft you automatically log on and hit Google for all it's worth and start learning about the problem. After a few months of researching before and after photos and all about the procedure I stumbled upon the Smile Train. They are an incredible organisation started just ten years ago and made it their mission to fix clefts of babies, children and also adults who wouldn't have access to modern medical systems. No mean feat. Other worthy organisations such as Operation Smile (who by coincidence have their UK office a few doors down from where I work) do great work too by sending western doctors to these far flung places and perform as many cleft repairs as they can in two to three week periods. This is obviously fantastic, however there are so many affected people that they'd never be able to fix them all using this method even if they had all the two to three week periods forevermore.

So the Smile Train sought to do it a different way. By acknowledging that they couldn't do it all themselves, they set up a training and information platform which allowed local doctors even in the poorest and hardest to reach places to access the tools and information required so they can use their considerable skills and fix the problem themselves. What's great is that however remote, however poor the area, there will always be inspired, bright people who seek to do good and make people's lives better. The problem is that with all the best intentions in the world, even these amazing people can't do it without resources. So the Smile Train pays for everything other than providing the surgeons, nurses and doctors and as such it is incredibly efficient. Just $250 covers an operation which will transform someone's life forever.

Without this operation, these babies become kids and then adults who live crappy lives surrounded by people who believe a cleft is a curse from God and that they should be left out of regular society. They don't go to school, they don't get jobs, they don't meet a partner and they don't have children. Literally a lifetime of slavery to a birth defect which can be cured in as little as a 45 minute operation. You can see why someone wanted to sort this out. That someone was Bryan Mullaney, a guy who we were lucky to meet at the 10 year anniversary we were invited to a couple of years ago. I understand the structure of the charity has changed a little recently and he no longer runs it, however I'm sure he's just as passionate as ever and he ought to be immensely proud of what he's achieved. The stats are amazing, nearly 600,000 clefts repaired to date and now more children have clefts fixed in India and China each year than are born with them. This charity is finally resolving the problem, containing it...not many charities can claim that or even dream it.

Amazing. So we give a bit each month so once a year we can say that a baby or child can get the same benefit that Jake did for gratis on the good old NHS. We recently celebrated my folks' 40th wedding anniversary and my sister and brother-in-law's 10th at a garden party at my parents' house so we asked guests not to bring presents but told them they could make a donation to either Cancer Research or the Smile Train. I wish I'd played the guilt trip card a bit before I introduced the band but after a few vinos I forgot, however we managed to raise nearly £900, half of which will be going to the Smile Train. So that's pretty much two kids who will now have a regular life full of opportunity where before there would be none.

So thanks to everyone who donated and thanks again to the Smile Train. You rock.