Share a smile this Christmas | Inquirer Lifestyle

Share a smile this Christmas

MANILA, Philippines — We smile to show our emotions, to connect and to share our happiness.


But when a child has a cleft lip or cleft palate, smiling which should be a pleasant human experience, can be a burden.


This birth defect, which the Philippine Birth Defect Registry estimates affects one in every 500 newborn Filipino babies yearly, causes problems such as malnutrition, breathing difficulties, and even ear infections.


But beyond the physical difficulties, children born with cleft condition are often targets of ridicule and bullying because they are “different.” This can stunt social development and prevent them from attending school.


This condition may not be life-threatening, but it can cripple an otherwise promising future for a child.


The Philippines’ gift of smile


Did you know that a simple 45-minute outpatient operation that costs P15,000 can change the life of a child with a cleft defect?


That is all it takes, say the people behind Operation Smile, an international non-profit organization of medical professionals and volunteers with presence in over 60 countries and with roots in the Philippines.


Operation Smile works to provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for indigent children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. It also provides after-surgery healthcare to these kids.


Since 1982, Operation Smile has helped bring back smiles to the faces of over 25,000 Filipino children and young adults with cleft lips and palates.


“Poverty prevents these children from gaining access to the reconstructive surgery they badly need,” says Roberto Manzano, president and executive director of Project Smile.


“We try to reach as many of them as we can, because the operation doesn’t just ‘fix’ a child’s appearance. It transforms their lives.


Children have amazing powers of recovery, and I like to think that Operation Smile simply uncovers the true smile within them,” adds Manzano.


Share more, Live More


This year, for its 30th anniversary, Operation Smile comes home to the Philippines to give more smiles to children in need. The organization partnered with leading wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc. in the commemoration of its anniversary through more surgical missions in various areas of the country.


“We believe in the power of the smile to change lives that is why Smart has been a long-time supporter of Operation Smile through its years of operation,” says Napoleon Nazareno, president and CEO of PLDT and Smart Communications.


Smart has provided support ranging from connectivity and financial assistance to the development of the Operation Smile mobile application that will facilitate health data management during surgical missions.


“This year, especially this Christmas, we want to make it extra special. We are giving our subscribers the chance to come together and help change lives. They now have the power to share more and live more by simply using their mobile phones,” adds Nazareno.


Thousands of children are still waiting for the chance to receive Operation Smile’s help. Now, Smart subscribers can give the gift of smile this season by simply texting SMILE (space) AMOUNT to 4483 (ex: SMILE 25). Donations can be made in P 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500, and 1,000.


“Smart gives you a way to share your blessings wherever you are with a simple text message. And because Smart has the nationwidest reach, you can be sure that whatever you share will be received,” says Carlo Endaya, Smart Brand Equity Management head.


Year-round reliable connections are a gift Smart subscribers enjoy. In a season when sharing is a gift to both givers and the recipients, subscribers can live more by sharing more through Smart.