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The world’s largest cleft-focused NGO, Smile Train, organised a captivating photo exhibition at Select City Walk, New Delhi today, to commemorate National Cleft Day 2024. The event also served as the launch of their “Face to Face” campaign, spotlighting remarkable narratives aimed at increasing awareness about clefts. The exhibition was inaugurated by LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2023, Shweta Sharda.

Smile Train India celebrates National Cleft Day with the launch of Face to Face campaign with Miss Diva Universe 2023, Shweta Sharda and Komal Bedi Sohal

The exhibition showcased the inspiring journeys of Smile Train supported cleft affected children through compelling photographs captured by an internationally recognised photographer Komal Bedi Sohal. The pictures portrayed the profound impact of cleft surgeries, highlighting the transformative journey of children with clefts as they blossom with their newfound self-assurance and confidence.

In India, more than 35,000 children are born with clefts annually. Many of them get bullied or remain isolated because of their facial difference and speech. Untreated clefts can cause numerous health issues including difficulty with breathing, eating, hearing, and speaking. However, timely surgery and treatment can completely cure clefts, giving individuals endless opportunities to thrive in life. February 8 is observed as National Cleft Day by the Indian Society of Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies and cleft charities in India.

Mamta Carroll, Smile Train’s Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Asia said, “Face to Face – transcends being merely a photo exhibition; it embodies a tribute to the resilience and unwavering spirit of the young children whose treatments have been supported by Smile Train. While we share the life narratives of a select few here, our journey spanning over two decades in India has transformed more than 700,000 lives by offering them essential treatment support.

At the inauguration LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2023, Shweta Sharda, applauded this initiative and said, “Its a privilege to support an organization committed to creating a brighter future for children with clefts. Each smile narrates a tale of resilience, bravery, and transformation. Being a part of the “Face to Face” campaign was truly a humbling experience.”

Capturing the essence of the exhibition through her lens, the photographer Komal Bedi Sohal mentioned, “In celebration of National Cleft Day 2024, I wanted to capture a series of intimate portraits for Smile Train. When I say “intimate” I mean that the individuals I am photographing are sharing parts of themselves with me, an honour and responsibility I take seriously. They entrust me with their pain, joy, hopes, emotions, and aspirations. My goal is to encapsulate as much of this as possible. I aimed for these portraits to be raw, where raw signifies real, and real far surpasses perfection. Beauty takes on diverse forms, and true beauty lies in authenticity. That’s the essence I aimed to capture a portrait that not only exudes beauty but resonates with genuine soul.

“Face to Face” exhibition garnered significant attention and appreciation from visitors, further amplifying awareness about clefts and the work done by Smile Train in India.

About Smile Train India

Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. Since 2000, Smile Train India has supported more than 700,000 free cleft surgeries across India, through a network of 150+ partner hospitals.

To learn more about how Smile Train India’s sustainable approach, please visit smiletrainindia.org. For cleft treatment related query or support, please call our toll-free helpline number: 1800 103 8301.

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