World Smile Day 2019: Celebrating It The First Time with Smile Train and Aboitiz Foundation

They say, your smile is the best accessory you can wear. That’s why there’s always a reason for everyone to celebrate World Smile Day every year. But to be honest, this year is my first time celebrating this occasion which is being held every first Friday of October. I’m very happy that I was able to celebrate it this year with people who always choose to be kind and have a heart for people in need. So, I’m going to share you my fun and humbling experience with Smile Train Philippines and Aboitiz Foundation this World Smile Day.

You’re never fully dressed without a smile.

A song from the classic movie, Annie (1982)

Last week, Aboitiz Foundation invited me to Celebrate World Smile Day with some of the Smile Train beneficiaries and Binibining Pilipinas 2019 title holders ⁠— Bb. Pilipinas Universe Gazini Ganados, along with Bb. Pilipinas International Patch Magtanong, Bb. Pilipinas Supranational Resham Saeed, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental Emma Tiglao, Bb. Pilipinas Globe Leren Bautista, Bb. Pilipinas first runner-up Aya Abesamis, and Bb. pilipinas second runner up Samantha Bernardo. It was an art-filled afternoon at the office of Aboitiz Foundation at NAC Tower in BGC as we created memorabilia plush toys.

There were over twenty Smile Train beneficiaries who participated and through that event, I met baby Jane and her mom. Baby Jane had her first cleft surgery at 11 months. They’re very thankful to Smile Train as Baby Jane’s parents didn’t spent a cent for the surgery. She’s shy but undeniably sweet. As we spent the whole afternoon making our plushie together, I somehow gained her trust to engage with me. She might have a hard time speaking, but she can follow instructions and did enjoyed making her heart plushie.

In less than a year, we have raised more than 60 percent of our target funds to support Smile Train and children with clefts through KINDer website, as part of our efforts to advance business and communities by co-creating safe, empowered, and sustainable communities. Smille Train Philippines supports more than 5,000 surgeries every year and we would like too inspire others to support their life-changing work. We encourage more peopple to support Smile Train’s cause by donating through KINDer

Maribeth Marasigan, First Vice President and Chief Operationg Officer of Aboitiz Foundation

Before this event, I’m not really familiar about Smile Train and what it is really all about. Now, I learned that they already supported more than 1.5 million cleft surgery around the world since 1999 through the help of its donors and partners. Not only that, they actually have their presence here in the Philippines and in fact, already funded 60,000 cleft surgeries since 2001. The support doesn’t stop at funding surgeries but really extend it to the whole cleft care treatment programs. Smile Train has four active comprehensive cleft care treatment programs including orthodontics, speech therapy, nutrition and emotional support which is very helpful not only to the patient but to their families as well.

As we celebrate World Smile Day with our partners, Aboitiz Foundation and Binibiining Pilipinas, we reaffirm our commitment to raise more awareness and inspire others to join our cause in spreading smiles in the country. We hope to partner with more companies and organizations that will allow us to reach more children in need.

Kimmy C. Flaviano, Smile Train Philippines South East Asia Area Director

Before I end this article, I’d like to thank Aboitiz Foundation for always having me. I am grateful for the experience which raised awareness to people like me. If you’d like to donate funds for children with cleft, just visit KINDer by Aboitiz. It’s an online platform where everyone can donate to various advocacies that aim to help create a kinder world. Aside from Smile Train, KINDer supports other causes that benefit education, enterprise development, environmental (I support PawiCamp for our beloved pawikans!), health and other foundations.

About Smile Train
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. To learn more about how Smile Train’s sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit smiletrain.org.

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