How important is a smile? It can change your day around. It shows happiness. It can brighten a mood. It’s infectious. Smile Train wants to educate people about their mission and sustainable approach to fixing cleft lips and palates. Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with unrepaired clefts live in shame, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Smile Trains sustainable model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their communities. Smile Train uses the “teach a man to fish” model focusing on training local doctors to perform cleft repairs in their communities. Those doctors then go on to train other doctors creating a long-term, sustainable system. Patients see their smile for the first time, parents cry tears of joy, lives and communities are changed forever. As a result of Smile Trains efficiency and with the support of our donors and partners around the world, Smile Train has transformed the lives of more than one million children by giving them the power of a smile — that’s roughly 340 surgeries a day and 127,000 every year. One of my favorite Smile Train stories comes from Mexico where a Smile Got Monserrat Singing Monserrat Reyna Barcenas grew up fighting. Teased and bullied since the age of 4 due to a speech impediment from her cleft lip and palate, she was quick to anger and became a fierce schoolyard fighter. Monserrat belongs to a family that chooses music over violence. Her father comes from a long line of mariachis. So when her mother saw she’d given birth to a girl that might never participate in the family’s musical tradition, she became depressed. Blaming herself. The father’s family is full of singers, yet she had a girl who couldn’t sing. And even though Smile Train sponsored her surgery by Dr. Eduardo Varela and his team at Hospital del Niño DIF Hidalgo in Pachuca, Mexico, Monserrat had already developed improper speaking habits. Which is not uncommon for those who’ve had their clefts repaired after learning to speak. Still, it left her feeling different and alone. Determined to give her the life she deserves, her parents brought her back to the hospital. There, she enrolled in speech pathology and counseling. And our doctors, nurses and counselors helped her gain the confidence to perform. Today Monserrat not only uses her voice to make new friends and join her family in song, but she’s even taken the stage and performed solo on numerous occasions. A long way from the kid who’d rather fight than sing. Monserrat share her own experience in these quotes “I feel happier and more self confident, and even brag about it.” “I want to show everyone that this kind of condition doesn’t stop you… I’m really really happy the way I am.” “Now when I have to speak in front of the class, people quiet down and listen.” “Before when I drank water it would come through my nose. Or when I showered, it would come through my nose. But that doesn’t happen anymore now.” Ready to make a difference ? Click here to Join Smile Train and change the world one smile at a time. Smile Train has a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Smile Train’s model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in developing countries provide 100%- free cleft repair surgery in their communities. Join us and change the world with the power of a smile. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smile Train. The opinions and text are all mine.