MANILA, Philippines – Binibining Pilipinas 2019 titleholders along with groups from the private sector celebrated World Smile Day with children affected by cleft palate on Friday afternoon.
According to Smile Train Philippines, a charity group for children with clefts, the celebration done in partnership with a local foundation was geared at raising awareness for their KINDer program — an online platform where people could donate funds for these children.
“As we celebrate World Smile Day with our partners, we reaffirm our commitment to join our cause in spreading more smiles in the country. We hope to partner with more companies and organizations that will allow us to reach more children in need,” Smile Train Philippines Director Kimmy Flaviano said in a statement.
“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 our KINDer website, as part of our efforts to advance business and communities by co-creating safe, empowered, and sustainable communities,” Aboitiz Foundation Vice President Maribeth Marasigan added.
The event was attended by Binibining Pilipinas Universe Gazini Ganados, Binibining Pilipinas International Patch Magtanong, Binibining Pilipinas Supranational Resham Saeed, Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental Emma Tiglao, Binibining Pilipinas Globe Leren Bautista, first runner-up Aye Abesamis and second runner-up Samantha Bernardo.
Some of the activities for the children include art sessions and the creation of plush toys with the help of the beauty queens.
Ganados said she backs the program as it gives children another chance in life.
“Every cause that we support is special, it’s any organization that would help support the poor or the ones who cannot afford. So any organization, especially this one, that ties up with Ms. Universe organization, it’s been two years and it’s special to us to help other people,” Ganados said in the sidelines of the event, which was held in Taguig City.
“I feel overwhelmed because I was once a kid and it gives me joy that these kids are given the opportunity to have a new life, a new beginning through the operations that Smile Train is giving them. It’s good to know that these kids are having fun,” she added.
According to previous reports, around one in 500 children in the Philippines are born with either a cleft lip or palate yearly. There have been several stories of discrimination geared towards people with clefts, as some have been denied jobs even if they were qualified enough, while there are some who were bullied since childhood.
Smile Train says they have supported over 1.5 million cleft surgeries globally — more than 50,000 of which is in the Philippines.
For more information on the advocacy, the KINDer website can be accessed through www.kinder.aboitiz.com, while Smile Train’s website is smiletrain.org. Smile Train is also on Facebook (@SmileTrainPhilippines), Twitter, and Instagram (@SmileTrainPh).