Hundreds Attend Smile Train’s First Cleft Con India 2022
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Overcoming obstacles and normalizing the divide highlighted in first-ever event of its kind in India
Delhi, India (NewsSee)
Smile Train, the world’s largest slot-focused organization, has brought together hundreds of slot-affected people to empower, inspire and foster a unique sense of community. Nearly 400 people took part in the two-day event, which was hosted virtually and in person at the India Habitat Center in Delhi on June 16-17.
As the first event of its kind in India, Cleft Con India 2022 offered fourteen sessions highlighting the medical, emotional and logistical barriers related to cleft. Speakers took center stage to deliver powerful personal stories of overcoming obstacles and finding strength in the struggle as someone affected by cleft.
“We want to raise awareness and de-stigmatize the lunge,” said Mamta Carroll, Smile Train’s senior vice president and regional manager for Asia. “We are creating the right environment to encourage and empower our lunge warriors. We hope to spread the message that cleft is completely treatable and we as a community are here to offer our support.
In India, more than 35,000 children are born each year with a cleft condition. Many of them are victims of intimidation, ostracism or isolation. If left untreated, cleft can cause many health problems, including difficulty eating, hearing, and breathing.
“Estimates show that India has the highest rate of cleft births in the world. Addressing the barriers faced by people with facial clefts and ensuring that their medical, nutritional and psychological needs are met is a priority for Smile Train in India,” said Susannah Schaefer, President and CEO of Smile Train. “Cleft Con India 2022 has created a space for people to speak openly about their needs, experiences and aspirations. I am proud of the participants, my colleagues and our global commitment to the crack community.
Smile Train recently marked 21 years of impact in India and has supported over 650,000 cleft surgeries for children in need through a network of over 150 partner hospitals across the country. The organization continues to expand its network of medical partners, donors and supporters through its sustainable model and is proud of its heritage in providing free cleft care across the country.
About Smile Train India
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with the training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children around the world. We offer a lasting solution and a scalable global health model for treating cleft, dramatically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak and thrive.
To learn more about Smile Train’s sustainable approach in India, please visit smiletrainindia.org.