SmileTrain – changing the world one smile at a time


I learned of SmileTrain some years ago and have tried to contribute what I can along the way. What got to me personally was seeing the faces of children, generally in poor countries, with severe cleft palates and trying to imagine how their life would be without help. And then learning that for only $250, the entire operation could be done and a life basically put back on track.

From the SmileTrain website:

Unlike many charities that do many different things, The Smile Train mission is focused on solving a single problem: cleft lip and palate.
Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain and heartache.
The good news is every single child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes.
This is our mission:
-To provide free cleft surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries.
-To provide free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals.
Until there are no more children who need help and we have completely
eradicated the problem of clefts.

ChildFund International


Over the years, I have found sponsoring children through ChildFund International a truly rewarding experience. You regularly receive a progress report for each child along with where the money is being spent and how the local communities are benefiting. The best part is the interaction with the kids, writing letters back and forth, sending pictures, seeing them grow and mature, and knowing that they truly benefit from the small amount sent each month.

The ChildFund Mission from the ChildFund website:

  • To help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children living in poverty have the capacity to become young adults, parents and leaders who bring lasting and positive change to their communities.
  • To promote societies whose individuals and institutions participate in valuing, protecting, and advancing the worth and the rights of children.

3 thoughts on “Worthwhile

  1. Dave, like you I have developed a passion to write about retirement, having just retired from the federal government. I have just begun my blog site with an eye toward to serving the federal employee community. Also, like you, I am focusing on things other than finances. There are enough of those type of site. My emphasis will be on continued public service in retirement by serving with charitable organizations. I’m glad I found your site for inspiration..

    • Thank you for the kind words Mark and welcome to the world of blogging! It sounds like your experience in the federal government will make you that much more in tune with the needs and realities of like minded retirees and retirees-to-be. Good luck with your efforts.

  2. I wanted to share one of my peace corps memories with you since you mention the SmileTrain. I was a nurse in the Amazon side of Ecuador in the late 70s when I noticed a child who was taller than the others and always had her head down in a class I taught at the local open air school. I finally learned this child was several years older than the others but had just started school. Her family had finally sent her to school despite her cleft lip and palate and she was beginning to withdraw due to the other childrens couriosity. Of course in those days there were all kinds of stupid superstitions about clefts. I talked around with my other peace corps friends and located a surgeon in Quito who was known to do Obras de Dios, charitable works. He agreed to do the surgery for free if I would arrange the hospital, anesthesia, lab and getting her there. I tried to organize my village but they wanted to spend their money on doors for the new church. Fortunately, I had money I could use from selling my car when I left the States. I managed to talk her family into this project, I don’t know how, she was only about 9. On the bus ride to Quito she was sick, at seeing skyscrappers and airplanes she cried, she freaked when lab was drawn, how I wished her family had sent someone with her. But when I saw her after the surgery I was so happy with the small cost that made her look preaty like the rest of her family. Sadly she would not return later to close the cleft palate, too traumatised by it all. I often think of her and hope her life was easier for that Obra de Dios.

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