"I have a foundation called Clothes Off Our Back and Smile Train was one of our first beneficiaries," Kaczmarek says. "They’re such a lean, well-run organization, and $250 can give a child a life they would otherwise never have. They will do 50,000 cleft repairs in India alone this year. No one is turned away, which is remarkable."
"Many of these babies are so tiny and malnourished, because you can’t suck with a cleft lip. Feeding is very difficult. This little girl was older than she looks; I picked her up and it was like holding a pair of shoes, she was so light. These children are so beloved by their families. When the doctor was examining this girl, her father caught my eye; he took his hand and held it over his heart, gestured down to the baby and nodded his head so proudly. But without the operation chances are these children won’t go to school or make friends or find a spouse. If they make it to adulthood it’s often the life of a beggar that they’ll have. So it makes a huge difference-it’s not just cosmetic surgery."
"Here I’m with Dr. Subodh Singh [left], the Mother Teresa of cleft. He’s featured in the Oscar-winning documentary short Smile Pinki. He said he would do these operations 24 hours a day if he could. We visited some of the families whose children he operated on; this child being held is one of them, and the woman has a photo of how she looked before."
"In Varanasi, I went to the hospital and watched this girl, named Radha, have her operation. Her grandmother and I were crying afterward. As a mother, I think about the kids but I also think about giving another mother a chance to see her child smile and be able to have a friend. I told Dr. Subodh that I’d like to come every year for a week-‘I will clean your toilets, I will do laundry, I will file paperwork, I will do anything you want me to do.’ I’m in my fifties now, and my husband and I are going through a divorce-life throws you some curves that you never expected. I’m so grateful to Smile Train for asking if I would like to come to India. It was exactly what the doctor ordered for my life right now, to do something like this."
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