9th Mile, Khanapara, Ri Bhoi, January 20, 2024: Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused NGO, joined hands with the University of Science and Technology Meghalaya (USTM) to host a groundbreaking student awareness and fundraising activity today. This pioneering initiative witnessed the active participation of nearly 2000 students at the USTM campus. The campaign was graced by Shri Mahbubul Hoque, Chancellor USTM, Prof GD Sharma, Vice Chancellor USTM, Dr D. Momin, Senior Medical Officer cum District Nodal Officer RBSK, Smt. M. Tmung (DEIC manager, Ri Bhoi District), Mr Johnson, State coordinator, National Health Mission; representatives from Smile Train, Woodland Hospital, and a large number of USTM students.
The Meghalaya Smiles event raised awareness through engaging activities such as quizzes and games hosted by RJ Baio from Red FM, a Phawar performance on the importance of smiles, a flash mob, and a screening of the Oscar-winning film ‘Smile Pinki’. A fundraising campaign was also launched, encouraging USTM to support Smile Train’s cause. Students of USTM actively participated in the campaign.
Speaking in this regard, Shri Mahbubul Hoque, Founder Chancellor, USTM, expressed, “USTM truly stands out as an inclusive and supportive community that embraces people from all walks of life. The commitment to diversity and the welcoming atmosphere make it a place where everyone feels valued and respected. The Smile Train is providing a great service to humanity and I hope this campaign will create considerable awareness among the masses.”. He highlighted the importance of collaboration to create a positive impact on the lives of those affected by clefts.
Anjali Katoch, Head of Communications and Business Development at Smile Train India, conveyed her gratitude to the university and its students, stating, “Ensuring that children with clefts receive safe, timely, and quality cleft treatment is a core focus for Smile Train. Engaging with students of USTM holds immense potential in fostering community understanding and gathering essential support to aid free surgeries for those in need. I am confident that we will reach out to many more cleft-affected children through this partnership.”
In India, more than 35,000 children are born with a cleft lip and/or palate every year. Many of these children face challenges in eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking due to the lack of affordable cleft surgeries and comprehensive care. Dr Werlock Kharshiing, Smile Train Partner Surgeon and Chairman of Woodland Hospital, Shillong, shared, “Our partnership with Smile Train spans 17 years, and together we have helped provide free cleft surgeries in Meghalaya. Limited awareness continues to be a challenge, and this campaign will surely lead to improved awareness and a greater number of cleft-affected children receiving timely care and leading fulfilling lives.”
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. Since 2000, Smile Train India has supported more than 700,000 free cleft surgeries across India through a network of 150+ partner hospitals. For cleft treatment-related queries or support, the toll-free helpline number is 1800 103 8301.