Two Patients, Nine Reasons to Smile

October 9, 2020 | Smile Train

Smile Train’s 9 Reasons to Smile Activity Booklet is filled with creative art projects and engaging family games that help people explore their emotions, their relationships, and their world — even while at home. It can be used as a printed booklet or as a digital guide to draw and play at home. It is available in many languages — please use, share, and send pictures or videos using it at home at 

Building Self Esteem

Silvia lives with her family in Karawang, West Java, Indonesia. Her father, who sells secondhand goods, must travel two hours to the city of Jakarta to sell his wares. Due to the distance, he is usually only able to return home every two weeks, depending on how business goes – but Silvia’s father and mother are both dedicated to building a happy home for their three children. Silvia received a Smile Train-supported cleft surgery at age 9, and, despite the fact that Silvia’s father must be away from home so often, they work to ensure their family remains close.

Today, Silvia is a happy 11-year-old who loves school and has a close group of friends.

Silvia with her family

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her school lessons are all virtual, and frequent internet outages in her city means that she is often unable to do her schoolwork for hours or days at a time. Her parents and siblings encourage her to use that time to continue studying and working on independent projects — and the Smile Train 9 Reasons to Smile Activity Booklet is helping her to do just that.

Silvia uses the booklet to keep busy and continue learning about herself, her emotions, and her connections to her family all day. When it’s time to play, she uses the activity booklet with her sibling and with her friends.

She loves to create and color her own “Pizza of Happiness” (one of the many activities in the booklet) with her older sister Wendah.

Silvia with her friends

Silvia’s advice for her peers with clefts? “Don't be afraid or ashamed of your condition, because that only hurts you. I have experienced that.” She says, “You have to be confident, don't be tired of trying to be a better person, always study hard as you can, love and respect your parents.”

Bringing Families Together

At just a year old, Aidah is too young to find words in a self-esteem word search, color a Pizza of Happiness, or to even read the pages of the 9 Reasons to Smile booklet herself — but that doesn’t mean it’s not giving Aidah and her family many reasons to smile together.

COVID-19 has proven to be a difficult time for Adiah’s family. Aidah’s father works as a day laborer in construction, while Adiah’s mother occasionally supplements the family’s income as a washerwoman. During the pandemic, work opportunities are few and far between for both of them.

Aidah with her family

The 9 Reasons to Smile booklet gives the family a chance to remove themselves from the stresses of everyday life to connect with Aidah and with each other. When the booklet arrived, Aidah’s father immediately browsed the activities and picked those that the whole family could do together. Aidah’s brother reads the book to his little sister, waiting for the day she’s old enough to join him in the games and crafts.

Aidah with her parents

Deasy Lasarati, Smile Train’s Program Manager for Indonesia, has seen firsthand the importance of family unity for patients with clefts — and everyone — during this time. She’s also seen how essential it is to stay connected. “In this difficult time, many families are enduring challenges, the 9 Reasons to Smile booklet is a small way to build an atmosphere of joy. It helps families play together and this has a very positive impact. It keeps families and children alike entertained while waiting for the pandemic to pass and waiting for their child’s surgery.”

Need a reason to smile? Download the 9 Reasons to Smile Activity Booklet today.