By News Team (Originally in English)
In 1999, Mr. Brian Mullaney and Mr. Charles Wang cofounded Smile Train to help people born with cleft lips and cleft palates live happy, productive lives. Individuals with these conditions often have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking properly; furthermore, in some areas of the world they are not allowed to attend school or hold a job and may be ostracized.
Mr. Mullaney and Mr. Wang had previously worked with a similar organization that would fly Western doctors on missions into developing nations to perform surgeries. However, they came to the conclusion that it would be more cost-effective and better for the local population if doctors living in the region were trained to perform the surgeries.
Smile Train embraced an innovative approach by using technology to train surgeons in developing countries on advanced cleft surgical techniques. In 1999, they worked with Dr. Court B. Cutting of New York University’s Virtual Research Laboratory in New York City, USA to create 3-D models of two patients based on X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT). The models were used in training videos, which are distributed free of charge in English, Spanish and Mandarin. They later used these 3-D CT scans to create the first open-access virtual surgical simulator, which is available at no charge via the web.
In 1999, President Jiang Zemin of China and President George H.W. Bush of the United States worked with Smile Train to help the charity provide its first corrective surgeries in Mr. Wang’s home country of China. Today, corrective surgeries can be done for as little as US$250 in just 45 minutes. Since 1999, the New York City, USA-based organization has paid for and enabled more than one million surgeries in 87 countries. It has also developed partnerships with over 1,100 hospitals and more than 2,200 surgeons.
Upon learning of the noble and compassionate work of Smile Train, Supreme Master Ching Hai reached out to express Her sincere appreciation. She also contributed US$50,000 to support their ongoing operations, and sent a heartfelt letter to the organization’s chairman, Mr. Wang. She stated in the letter,
Receiving Master’s contribution, Priscilla Ma, the Executive Director of Smile Train, responded in a letter dated January 22, 2013,
We pray for the continued success of the work of Smile Train. With God’s grace, may more children enjoy a happy, healthy life and have a bright future!