ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Smile Train: Helping Children With Cleft Lips

Updated on January 27, 2017

The Smile Train is a rare type of charity; they specialize in providing free cleft/palate repair surgery for children in the world's poorest countries, and they do it with only a handful of employees. Their board of directors covers all non-medical costs themselves (believe me when I tell you that's really something), which means 100% of medical donations goes to the child in need. This is a big difference from charities who keep a percentage of your money to keep their operation going. The Smile Train does that bit on their own.

Shiva after her surgery.
Shiva after her surgery.
Shiva before surgery.
Shiva before surgery.

What exactly do they do?

Smile Train teaches local doctors to perform quality surgery on children who need it, and then pays for the surgery itself. The cost is only 250 dollars, and the operation spans about 40 minutes time. And yes, that means for $250, you could change a child's life dramatically.

This is a far cheaper alternative to rounding up American doctors and nurses to make a trip to somewhere like India. And it just makes sense to train a local doctor, so they can branch out and help others who don't come to them via Smile Train.

And it's not just a cosmetic thing - if you've ever cared for person with a cleft lip, you'll know basic tasks like eating and drinking turn into humiliating ordeals. Try drinking a glass of milk with your mouth open and you'll see what I mean. Life is bad enough in poverty, without having to add this kind of impediment to it.

Walter Cronkite On The Smile Train

Yi Yun smiling.
Yi Yun smiling.

What happens if they don't get the surgery?

A lot of these kids are seen as bad omens in their villages, and many relatives will try to convince parents to abandon them. As shocking as that sounds, you'll be even more stunned to hear that many parents actually do it. When found, they end up in orphanages and are then subject to even greater discrimination by their peers. Not really hard to imagine, when you consider how unkind children can be.

Yi Yun before surgery.
Yi Yun before surgery.

What if I can't afford $250?

$250 is certainly a lot of money for many people. If you can't afford a lump sum payment, you can join Smile Train's Smile of the Month club, and give them permission to deduct a specified amount from your bank account or credit card each month.

You can pay online, and you can do so in dollars or sterling. Even if you can't afford $250, anything you could offer would be helpful, and you can feel good about knowing 100% of it will go to the children who need it. If you think you can help a child in this situation, please donate whatever you can afford.

Candice Bergen On Behalf of The Smile Train

Celebs Born with Cleft Lips

  • Doc Holliday
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Cheech Marin
  • Stacey Keach
  • Tim Lott
  • Michael Helm
  • Rita MacNeil
  • Wendy Harmer

Supporters of Smile Train:

  • Walter Cronkite
  • Candace Bergen
  • Former President Bush
  • Tom Brokaw
  • Alex Trebek
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Jane Kaczmarek
  • Bette Midler
  • Donald Trump


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)