Since 2009, a generous US-based foundation* has contributed enough funds to help create more than 3,200 new smiles. Most recently, they provided Smile Train with a grant to support projects in Myanmar. The foundation’s Grants Administrator recently traveled to Myanmar to see how the new funds are helping on the ground. The following is her first-hand account of the experience.
My journey began in the capital city of Yangon, where I met up with Smile Train staff members Dr. Ashish Sabharwal and Dr. Zin Ko Aung. The three of us traveled to Pinlon Hospital, where we were greeted by Smile Train partner surgeon Dr. Prof. Ko Ko Maung.
I learned that Dr. Maung took a tremendous risk when he started a cleft treatment center and agreed to become Smile Train’s first local partner back in 2008 — Myanmar was still under military rule and the clinic could have been closed for any number of reasons. Dr. Maung’s courage allowed Smile Train to begin providing care in Myanmar and has been the catalyst that lead to more than 4,300 children receiving free cleft surgeries in the country.
We took a tour of Pinlon Hospital, where I met two wards full of children waiting for, or recovering from, cleft surgery. I was impressed to see that most of the patients were very young, including many babies, which is a testament to how well Smile Train’s outreach programs are working in Myanmar.
Next, I visited Shwe Baho Hospital where I met an 11-year-old girl from the Delta Region. The girl’s parents are extremely poor and live in a remote area. In fact, Ashish told me that when he first visited the family, he had to abandon his car and travel across two rope bridges to reach the very remote house. It was incredible to witness this girl’s joy as Smile Train’s local surgeons prepared for her cleft surgery. She was so happy and thankful to get the chance to lead a normal life — it was truly something to behold.
Finally, I visited Pun Hlaing Siloam Hospital and met a Smile Train partner surgeon who does many of the cleft surgeries in Myanmar. The impact of pairing dedicated and skilled surgeons with funding from Smile Train and our foundation is truly amazing to witness. It’s difficult to find the right words to relay our gratitude — all we can do is keep sharing the stories of the ways that Smile Train has changed the lives of so many children around the world.
If you would like to help us provide more children around the world with new smiles and second chances at life, please make a gift today.
*The foundation wishes to make their support anonymously.