Smile Train recently held an event in Mumbai to celebrate the milestone of providing 500,000 free cleft surgeries in India. The already noteworthy event garnered even more attention from local and regional press, as proceedings were hosted by Bollywood Actress and longtime Smile Train Goodwill Ambassador Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
The event hall was filled with special guests who helped make the milestone possible, including Smile Train corporate partners, 100+ medical partners, and many former patients, including Smile Pinki star Pinki Sonkar.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan said that she was honored to host and bring attention to a special milestone that has changed the face of India. She was also pleased that The Aishwarya Rai Foundation had played a small role in providing effective change in the lives of cleft patients. Aishwarya said, “I’m proud to be associated with Smile Train for all these years and extend my heartfelt congratulations to them for changing the lives of half a million cleft patients in India. I look forward to continuing this journey of giving new reasons to smile to children born with clefts.”
Attendees were treated with a performance from a local dance troupe, which told Smile Train’s history in India through dance. For a more literal history, Smile Train’s Vice President and Regional Director of South Asia Mamta Carroll told the crowd how a handful of local surgeons, empowered by Smile Train’s “teach a man to fish” model, has allowed the program in India to grow and now performs more than 40,000 cleft surgeries each year.
Smile Train CEO Susannah Schaefer attended the event so that she could personally thank the many people who contributed to the 500,000 smile milestone. She shared:
Smile Train India is the largest cleft program in the world. Since our beginning, we have invested in empowering Indian medical professionals through financial support, training, and education. This has been possible because of the continuous support of our corporate donors, the selfless dedication of our partners, and the generosity of our individual donors. The milestone of 500,000 cleft surgeries in India, in just 17 years, is dedicated to their contribution.”
As a magical way to end the evening, Bajaj Finserv Ltd.’s Managing Director Sanjiv Bajaj reaffirmed his company’s ongoing CSR commitment to fund a further 20,000 free cleft treatments over the next two years! Sanjiv said of the commitment, “Bajaj Group has always believed that every Indian should have access to quality education and healthcare — in Smile Train we have found a partner which shares our belief. Bajaj Finserv and Smile Train provide a bright future full of opportunities and joy to these children and their families together.”
To help India create the next 500,000 smiles, and to bring smiles to the rest of the developing world, make a donation today.