Remembering Bharat’s Ratna

Smile Train

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

As a grieving nation comes to terms with the reality of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s passing, Rameswaram takes back its most famous son, Smile Train offers its humble, heartfelt homage to one of India’s greatest and most admired men.

It was a rare privilege and singular honor for Smile Train to count him as a Supporter. He met us on three occasions in the past five years – two of which were extended ‘face-to-face’ sessions where he asked searching questions, listened patiently and said he liked what Smile Train was doing….and would be happy to be recognized as a supporter. 

For us, this was the ultimate validation of everything we are doing!

Ironically, the third meeting earlier this year was to set up the fourth! We met to invite him as the Chief Guest to commemorate Smile Train’s 15th Anniversary in India. He readily accepted; even confirmed in writing! Sadly, it wasn’t fated.

He united us towards a shared Vision in his life and has orphaned us all in death. Bharat has lost an invaluable Ratna and Smile Train its most inspiring supporter.

All of us at Smile Train offer our condolences to a bereaved Nation and pray for eternal peace to the departed soul. We commit ourselves to redoubling our efforts to help poor children born with cleft lips and palates giving them not just a new smile but a new life…something Abdul Kalam Sir would have surely approved.


Mr. Satish Kalra is Chief Programs Officer for Smile Train and has been associated with the organization since it started working in India. Under his leadership, Smile Train India has been able to provide free cleft corrective surgeries to over 4,50,000 children. In his words, “There is something inherently addictive about working with kids, watching their lives being transformed; their faces light up with smiles that make you want to carry on.”

* The views expressed are those of the author. They may or may not reflect Smile Train's position.

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