Bollywood megastar, Instagram influencer, and Smile Train Ambassador Urvashi Rautela recently traveled to Bali, Indonesia for her first up-close-and-personal look Smile Train’s lifesaving cleft programmes.
Every day, 540 babies are born with a cleft. Far more than cosmetic, clefts are a potentially deadly birth difference that threaten babies’ abilities to eat, breathe, hear, speak, and so much else. Though a lucky few can be treated with just one surgery, most will require many surgeries, plus years of other specialised treatments, including nutrition support, speech therapy, orthodontics, and so much else to not only live, but thrive.
Thankfully, Smile Train has a solution. Unlike other cleft organisations that send outside doctors on mission trips to perform cleft surgeries in other countries, Smile Train trains and equips local experts to make the complete, comprehensive cleft care these babies need available for free in their communities 365 days of the year.
Urvashi saw the difference this makes all around her in Bali. She started her trip by meeting Smile Train patients and their families in their homes, where she learned firsthand all that Smile Train means to patients like Adiba.
The tiny rented room they call home soon filled with Adiba’s cries of hunger day and night. Adiba was Rizqiyana’s second child, but every time she tried to feed her, milk dribbled out her nose or into her lungs because of her cleft. Rizqiyana was terrified she might choke her baby with each attempted feeding.
Thankfully, Rizqiyana’s midwife soon directed the family to Yayasan Senyum Bali (YSB), a local Smile Train partner centre. Rizqiyana wasted no time.
Just like that, Adiba had a team of experts equipped with the latest technology on her side, and her mother had a special bottle to feed her with. Adiba had been at risk of malnutrition, but thanks to the team at YSB, she soon reached a healthy weight for her first cleft surgery, and a date was set — 3 January 2020.
The surgery was successful and just in time. Though COVID-19 forced the team to postpone Adiba’s second cleft surgery, they were still able to provide Adiba remote care during the pandemic so she was ready the moment surgery became safe again, in April 2021.
Though Adiba can now smile and eat just like every other child, her cleft journey is still far from over. She still has more surgeries, plus years of speech therapy, orthodontics, and other care ahead of her. But her family sleeps soundly now because they know she will receive it all at the exact time she needs it thanks to Smile Train.
Urvashi listened intently as Riqiyana shared this story, sometimes coming close to tears. And this was one just one of many families she met, each with a gripping journey all their own… and these patients were just a slight fraction of the more than 1.5 million Smile Train has treated since 1999.
By the time Urvashi visited YSB and other partners later in the week, it felt like going to greet a miracle worker. She met even more patients and families there and also took the opportunity to get to know the heroic cleft team that is changing — and saving — lives each day, thanks to Smile Train.
It was a whirlwind, transformative week. Urvashi left mesmerised by the impact Smile Train makes and dedicated anew to sharing her bright spotlight with our patients and partners to help make even more miraculous smiles possible.
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