Jian’s Advice: Never Lose Hope

A letter from a 19-year-old patient

Jian holding a picture of herself as a baby, before cleft surgery

Jian is a 20-year-old university student in the Philippines. She was also born with a cleft. She wrote us recently to share what she’s up to and how she believes Smile Train set her on the path to success.

I have been receiving Smile Train-supported cleft treatment from the team at Philippine Band of Mercy since I was young, starting with surgeries, and I am really thankful for that opportunity. As I was very young when I first received their assistance, I don't really remember anything from that time, but I did notice that I was being helped. Nevertheless, I still remember being teased and bullied when I started school.

Jian as a baby, just before cleft surgery
Jian just before her first cleft surgery

Back then, when I experienced more bullying, I tried to fight back to save myself. As I grew older, I realized that it was not worth it to mind what people say, since it will not be beneficial for me. Therefore, I started to prioritize myself, and this freed me from caring about the judgement of others. I thought, “I have this difference and I accept it and I am not ashamed anymore.” Knowing yourself is a good way to grow, and it’s not hard to face anyone when you don’t feel bad about who you are.

My family's love and support have always been very important to me. I am thankful to have them, especially because they took good care of me and made sure I had my cleft surgery early.

Jian today
Jian today

I also found support and strength from my friends. At first, they asked why I looked the way I do, and of course I tried to respond as best as I could. They supported me and accepted me for who I am, and I am grateful for that.

The ongoing services I received from my cleft team were also key to my development. Speech therapy is very important for patients like me because it helps us to improve our communication by teaching us how to pronounce words. In addition, I was able to receive orthodontic care and free dental treatment and I am grateful to have had that chance. But I will be even more confident once my braces come off and I have a full smile!

I hope that in the future, after I have a career, I will be able to donate to Smile Train to help them in helping others. I am very happy that they are able to help people like me.

Jian smiling

I am currently studying in university, taking up financial management. After graduation, I would like to take a break then hopefully get a good job, maybe in a bank, or own a business. But the important thing is, I want to tell others like me to keep going and not to lose hope, as there is help out there with Smile Train. My message to parents is the same: Never give up, because there is a solution to all things. Your child with a cleft will have the opportunity to live a happy life thanks to Smile Train.

Thank you, Smile Train and the team at Philippine Band of Mercy!

I appreciate all of your support for me, and I hope you will keep on helping others in need.

Jian is living with confidence and pursuing her dreams thanks to Smile Train donors like you.

Give now

Our impact in The Philippines

as of January 2023


cleft surgeries sponsored since 2001


active partner surgeons


active partner hospitals