Normally, long before a child is born, the right and left sides of the lip and the roof of the mouth fuse. Occasionally, those sections do not completely come together. In such cases, the child is born with a disconnection in the upper lip called a Cleft Lip. A related congenital defect in the palate is referred to as Cleft Palate. Since the development of lip and the palate are separate entities, some children can develop, or mal-develop, with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or variations of both.
One out of every 700 child is born with a cleft. In addition to the facial deformities, early in life these children have to deal with many psychosocial issues such as social anxiety, loneliness, depression, and alienation from their peers. In many societies they are shunned and isolated. Unfortunately, many of these affected children do not have the means to afford reconstructive surgery and thus have to go through life suffering not only from the disfigurement caused by this anomaly, but also from all associated social and psychological consequences.
This does not have to be so. Parya Etebari, dental student and Masoud Saman, medical student, have founded a non-profit organization to help these children. Chance to Smile’s goal is to develop and arrange medical mission trips to needy areas all over the world (Mexico, Nicaragua, Iran, etc.) to provide these children with free reparative surgeries.
“These trips are expensive: travel arrangements, medical supplies, and many other expenses come up but thanks to people’s good heart and their contributions, the lives of these children can be changed forever,” said Parya Etebari, President of Chance to Smile.
Chance to Smile already has the support of many contributors including Dr. G. Richard Holt, MD, MSE, MPH, Chance to Smile’s Faculty Advisor, Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and former Executive Vice President of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, and Ms. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Miss World Canada 2003, who has been an activist for human rights.
“I just want people to educate themselves about these conditions. Let these children’s suffering touch your heart; help us help them. Please see our website, get involved. Maybe together, we can rid these poor children of their deformities and social difficulties,” said Masoud Saman, Founder of Chance to Smile.
The mission trip to Mexico in September 2006 with the leadership of Dr. Aprile was a success. Our next trip will be to Jinotepe, Nicaragua in March 2007. For more information on upcoming events and ways to help visit Chance to Smile’s website at www.chancetosmile.com. Your contribution is what makes this possible.