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One Smile at a Time
A smile. A smile is a small action but a meaningful thing. It’s something that we should all be able to have, yet it’s something that we all take for granted. I can smile. You can smile. We can smile. In this world, some people were born with a smile. Maybe they were just lucky, because some were born without one.
Today, I have written this essay to raise the awareness for children that cannot smile. In the future, I hope that more and more children will receive the opportunity to have their own smiles. I would also like everyone to know that we should appreciate the smallest things that we always take for granted.
In this world, the unlucky ones are the ones born without a smile. They cannot smile because of a birth defect called Cleft lip. A cleft lip is the narrow opening or gap after the two sides of the upper lip separate. These facial malformations develop when the child does not have enough tissue in the mouth or lip area. The consequences for having this birth defect include the difficulty of eating and talking. Unfortunately, 2 of 1 million babies have cleft lip. Good news is, we can give people a smile, because there is a special surgery for cleft lip. It’s called cleft surgery.
There is one charity that provides free cleft surgery for millions of children that live in the poorest countries. This charity is Smile Train. Smile Train gives us the opportunity to make a difference, and change the world “one smile at a time.” Smile Train was founded in 1999 by Brian Mullaney and Charles Wang in New York. With a crew of 44 people trained cleft surgeons travel to some of the poorest areas such as Afghanistan, India, Malaysia, Ethiopia and 74 more. This charity was able to provide more than 600,000 smiles, because of the support from benevolent donors.
There is a touching story about a boy called “Cheb”. That isn’t his real name though. He was given this name because he was different. He is a 6 year old boy that grew up in a poor family in Cambodia. He was a victim of severe cleft lip. In public, he was teased and called a “cheb”, which was a humiliating name given to people with cleft lip. Although they were aware of a surgery that can change their son’s cleft lip, they couldn’t afford it. After awhile, his family heard about the Smile Train program from a radio report. Determined to receive this surgery for their son, it took the family 2 days to walk to the hospital. Once they reached the National Pediatric Hospital, Doctor Long Vanna performed free surgery and transformed his cleft lip into a smile. This young boy was given a second chance because of the donations from an anonymous donor. In result, this boy now has the confidence to stand up and say, “My name is Morng Taing Pilot.”
From the narrative, it can be easily inferred that cleft lip children are tormented by their peers. In addition, these children aren’t able to receive any education because of their inability to speak and are scared of the bullies at school. They cannot get married. They cannot go out into the public, and they cannot smile. According to people that see them, they are as scary as monsters. But these so-called “monsters” have feelings too. Each time they are made fun of, it lowers their self-esteem. They are even afraid to look at their own reflections. However, once they receive cleft surgery, they will go to school, live a decent life, get married and smile.
You know? We can help these kids. We can help these poor children, children that cannot smile. Fortunately, there are many people participating in the activities of philanthropy, the act of giving and helping. Did you know that more than 300 billion dollars were given to charity in 2009? The essence of love, kindness, and giving are passed from smile to smile and heart to heart. Around the world, there are many charities available for people like you and me, and with the power to change someone’s life this world can change. We can take action, and we can make a difference.
Flora Edwards once said, “In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and come back to us.” This quote symbolizes how the world is a simple cycle, a domino effect. When a donation is made, it affects someone significantly. Once that “someone” is able to support him or herself, they have the urge to help others, knowing they were once helped before. Soon, everyone in the world would find the passion to help others. For an example, have you realized a time when you helped someone and something good happened to you afterwards? Maybe someone called and told you that you left your credit card at the store. Maybe someone complimented on how beautiful you looked today. Or maybe the cashier gave you a discount on the watch you were purchasing. But that’s not the point. Point is, when you help a person, something good will happen to you. The saying goes “what goes around, comes around.”
For example, John McDonnell, a Suffolk University student, decided to raise the awareness for cleft lips after he was inspired by the Smile Train’s documentary, “Smile Pinki.” With his other 2 friends, they raised money for the program by participating in a triathlon. With his actions, the club has been responsible for changing the lives of 5 children since 2008. Look how a student made a difference. There was a difference in the world because 5 children were able to smile! Are you ready to make a difference? Many have, would you?
Mark Twain once quoted “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” Since 2008, donating to Smile Train every Thanksgiving has become my family’s tradition. When I chipped in money, I felt happy. I felt happy because instead of using the money to buy myself a piece of jewelry, I used it to give someone a new life. From that experience, I realized that the happiness from helping someone is far greater and stronger than the happiness from indulging my own desires.
In the end, some people are born with a smile. But in this world, there are still many children suffering from cleft lip. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone got the chance to have their own smile in their own life time. With Smile Train we are given the opportunity to give someone a smile, it’s a wonderful thing. Our generosity will not only encase our hearts with warmth but will also provide the feeling of happiness when we give someone hope and a new life. An anonymous author once said, “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.”