Miss Universe Ecuador 2018 Virginia Limongi traveled to the Philippines to meet with patients of a cleft charity this September.
Limongi, 24, visited patients of the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (NCFPI), an organization in Manila which is a partner of Smile Train Philippines. Smile Train is a leading cleft charity that offers surgery and comprehensive cleft care for free in over 85 countries.
Limongi shared a heartwarming moment between her and a child named Cyrus on Instagram last Sept. 10. As she carried him, Cyrus buried his head into her neck.
Her caption written in Spanish said Cyrus was going to have his cleft surgery through Smile Train the next day.
“Cyrus and I clicked from the first moment we saw each other and he did not even want to go,” she said.
Limongi revealed in an Instagram post last Sept. 12 that she learned of Smile Train first in the United States, where the non-profit was founded. When she visited the Philippines, she was immersed in how important comprehensive care is when it comes to cleft patients.
She noted that checking weight before surgery, tackling special cases and undergoing speech therapy were all free.
Limongi was also oriented on how babies are prepared for surgery with pre-surgical orthodontics, which moves and straightens teeth. She also had the chance to observe how speech therapy is conducted.
“I am grateful to be given the opportunity to learn more about Smile Train and the cause that supports local medical professionals providing cleft surgery and cleft care for children globally. It is always a joy to help spread smiles to the children and their parents,” she said.
The medical procedure and speech therapy are life-changing, as having a cleft lip and/or palate can affect a child’s ability to speak, eat and breathe. The birth defect can also lead one to be socially isolated. In countries like the Philippines, the main factor preventing one from receiving treatment is poverty.
Besides raising funds for cleft surgery and comprehensive care, Smile Train also trains local doctors so that they can help patients in their own communities. JB