In the relentless march of time 2016 draws to a close, we will say goodbye to another eventful and impactful year of life at Smile Train. As every year, our partners, supporters, and children made this a beautiful journey and inspired everyone across the globe for being on this journey with us. What started with the completion of 450,000 surgeries is now just a few steps away from achieving the SmileStone of 500,000 healed clefts across India.
The highlights of the year were, of course, the celebrations of so many of our partners who completed milestone surgeries and renewed their commitment towards the cause. We enter the New Year with a new vigor to continue working towards making free, comprehensive cleft care available to children born with clefts across India. Pictures express more than words, and hence I am sharing some of my most favorite pictures from the journey we undertook in 2016…
The year started with continued work around cleft weeks. This initiative of spreading renewed awareness about clefts continued to flourish as our partner hospitals in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Punjab and Haryana participated with enthusiasm.
We strengthened our partnerships with corporates such as the IndiaBulls Foundation and the Bajaj Finserv Group. Together with them, we completed surgery milestones and our partnership with Himalaya Herbals led to the launch of ‘Muskaan’.
Our communications team took to social media with campaigns to recognize the efforts of our partners through #WomenInspiringSmiles (Women’s Day), #NCCAPM (National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month), and #SmileTrainWSD (World Smile Day). Today, we have many supporters on social media who laud the efforts of our partners, appreciate the transformation of our patients and support our campaigns through their generous donations.
The Miss World Portugal delegation visited our partner Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre in Madurai to spread smiles among children with clefts. They truly embodied beauty with a purpose and their presence was heartwarming to many!
We launched and strengthened our own crowdfunding campaign which helped donors celebrate their special occasions uniquely. Their support helped us spread so many smiles and cheer across the year. If you haven’t seen the platform yet, I request you to view it here
We found continued support in Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), under the National Health Mission, in Gujarat, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. They continued to help us in identifying children with clefts in remote areas through their network of health workers. In the coming year, we hope to partner with the RBSK program in other states to spread new smiles to children across the entire country.
When our children walked the ramp for International Kids Couture Fashion Show twice this year, we sat back and marveled at their confidence and transformation. This is what we live for!
The highlight of the year was, of course, the visit of our CEO, Susannah Schaefer who helped us conclude the year on such a high note.
With these beautiful memories, we step into 2017, to make it yet another successful year, creating many more new smiles and journeys along the way.
Mamta Carrol is Vice President and Regional Director- South Asia, Smile Train and brings extensive experience in community social responsibility and developmental communications. Mamtaa has been associated with Smile Train for over a decade, she is an integral part of the organization and holds the cause of clefts very close to her heart.
* The views expressed are those of the author. They may or may not reflect Smile Train's position.