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“Meghalaya Smiles” is an Out-of-Syllabus Activity

North-east India’s first student engagement activity to foster cleft awareness

Anjali Katoch smiling and standing with Meghalaya Smiles dignitaries

At Smile Train, we truly believe in the revolutionary power of the younger generation to create awareness and bring about sustainable change in the community. Empowering youngsters with the right information means building a community that is more aware, empathetic, and inclusive. Our “Meghalaya Smiles” activity is a product of these beliefs. In collaboration with the University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya (USTM), we organized this awareness generation session emphasizing the pivotal role of student engagement in raising awareness about clefts.

The event was attended by health officials from the Meghalaya Government, senior officials from USTM, representatives from Smile Train partner Woodland Hospital, and other distinguished guests.

Anjali Katoch standing with Meghalaya Smiles dignitaries
Dignitaries on the dais

India’s leading radio network, Red FM, was the radio partner of the event and later broadcasted a cleft-awareness series in Meghalaya. Red FM’s RJ Baio, as the host, set the tone with a powerful affirmation on self-acceptance: “I am a masterpiece in making, a canvas of stories waiting to be celebrated”. The event offered curated activities, entertainment, and interactive sessions, providing students a platform to learn about clefts, explore, and contribute. A Phawar performance and flashmob added to the engaging edutainment atmosphere.

The close to 2,000 students who participated in the event departed filled with inspiration, ready to be catalysts of change. Armed with donation forms, each student became an ambassador for the cleft community, contributing to the collective force aimed at making a tangible difference in the lives of children in need.

Students collecting fundraising forms at Meghalaya Smiles
Students collecting fundraising forms

Students undertook a three-day fundraising campaign in their communities and the three top volunteers received a special facilitation from Smile Train. Student volunteer Jarange T.D Marak stated, “This was a lifetime experience. Going from getting to know about clefts to explaining clefts to people and raising funds has changed my perspectives. As a mantra, we all should aspire to inspire before we expire."

Student volunteer receiving a certificate at Meghalaya Smiles
Student volunteer receiving certificate

"Meghalaya Smiles" went beyond traditional college event boundaries, strategically fostering a generation passionate about making a difference and advocating for acceptance and inclusivity.