As the Miss Universe crown was placed on Iris Mittenaere’s head, she also became Smile Train’s newest Goodwill Ambassador — raising awareness for children suffering with untreated clefts around the world.
As her first act as Goodwill Ambassador, Iris visited Smile Train partners and patients in Haiti — a region with a high-need for free cleft surgery interventions. As a native French speaker, Iris was able to easily communicate with local families and surgeons without the need of a translator.
Iris was welcomed by Miss Universe Haiti Raquel Pelissier, along with Smile Train’s local partners and local government officials in Cap-Haitien. In celebration of Iris’s arrival, Raquel threw a welcome dinner and held a joint press conference to generate awareness for Smile Train’s presence in the region.
Iris then visited Smile Train partner hospital Hôpital Universitaire Justinien, where she gave a crown and a ‘Miss Haiti’ sash to a young girl who received her free Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery the following day.
Iris also visited the homes of two previous Smile Train patients, where the parents lovingly welcomed her into their homes and shared stories about how much their children’s lives have improved since their free Smile Train sponsored surgeries. “It was so amazing meeting patients like them and seeing how their lives have been changed for the better through Smile Train,” said Iris.
The next day, Iris returned to Hôpital Universitaire Justinien to witness a cleft repair surgery firsthand. She shared, “It was such an amazing experience, watching a life-changing cleft surgery. I am studying to be a dental surgeon, so I was honored to be in the operating room with Smile Train’s local medical partners who are on the ground helping cleft patients 365 days a year.”
Smile Train’s Director of Program Development Shannon Lambert said that she was thrilled to host Iris, who will surely bring awareness for the need for cleft surgery in Haiti. "As Miss Universe, and as a future dental surgeon, Iris has the ability to make a tremendous difference in the lives of Smile Train’s patients around the world — we hope that her involvement will inspire others to advocate for and support children with clefts.”
If you would like to help Iris bring smiles to children around the world, donate to her fundraising page today.