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Championing Smile Train at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo: The Investment of a Lifetime

On the other side of tears: We introduce you to Kenzu, a youngster from Indonesia whose life has been tranformed thanks to Smile Train. For every paid exhibitor at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo, we will fund a cleft operation through Smile Train.

As part of the Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo’s support for cleft charity Smile Train, we are running a regular series that highlights the organisation’s life-changing work.

As reported, The Moodie Davitt Report is to fund a cleft operation through Smile Train for every paid exhibitor at the pioneering event.

Smile Train has supported over 1.5 million cleft surgeries since 1999. Every five minutes Smile Train-supported cleft treatment helps a child in need.

Some 200,000 babies are born every year with cleft lips and/or palates. US$250 funds the cost of the 45-minute cleft surgery that transforms the life of a child – and that of his or her family.

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On the Other Side of Tears

We would like to introduce you to Kenzu, a youngster from Indonesia whose life, and those of his parents Susilawati and Heri, has been changed thanks to Smile Train.

Smiling through their fears: Kenzu with his young parents, Susilawati and Heri

For Susilawati, pregnancy was nine months of constant sickness and nausea, broken only by a monthly outbreak of something that felt like the flu. Her ultrasound looked good though and she managed the discomfort by dreaming of the baby she had waited for all her life.

On the day her son, Kenzu, was born, Susilawati cried uncontrollably. Her husband, Heri, did as well. Sadly, they weren’t tears of joy; they were tears of anxiety and fear over the double split in their newborn’s lip, just below his nose.

The couple had never seen a cleft before. They didn’t know what it meant or what to do. Their midwife suggested sending a letter to the government asking for help. They did, but they are still waiting for a response.

Three smiles say it all, thanks to Smile Train

However, the young family were luckier than they realised. Unlike so many other children born with clefts, Kenzu was able to breastfeed and take in the nutrition he needed. And they never had to fear being targeted by ridicule or rumour when they stepped outside because their family and community were there for them. They provided Susilawati and Heri with the emotional support they so needed during those overwhelming first days.

Their neighbours did more than just support them emotionally. One told a local Smile Train social worker about Kenzu’s cleft. Two weeks later, the boy was scheduled for a cleft lip surgery at his local Smile Train partner hospital, RS Hermina Galaxy in West Java, Indonesia.

Susilawati and Heri were shocked. They could hardly believe that the surgery would be free for them and it would happen so quickly.

Understandably, on the day of Kenzu’s surgery, the young couple were anxious. When they saw their son come out of the operating room they cried uncontrollably once again. This time, however, they were tears of joy.

Kenzu’s parents now believe the sky is the limit for their son’s future. As he matures, they hope the only lingering effect of his cleft will to remind him to take every opportunity to advocate on behalf of others born with clefts and lead them to Smile Train.

Heri’s advice to other parents of children with clefts is similar to what he will one day tell Kenzu: “Don’t worry, keep the faith, and tell others about Smile Train”.

And Susilawati’s gratitude is summed up in one sentence: “Thank you so much Smile Train for giving Kenzu a second chance at a better future”.

[Make the investment of a lifetime. Just US$21/month is all it takes to sponsor life-changing cleft surgery for one more child every year. Visit to make a gift today.]

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