Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft focused organization, brought hundreds of cleft-affected individuals together 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 Delhi’s India habitat Centre on June 16th and June 17th.
India’s first and largest platform for the cleft community Cleft Con India 2022 concludes today at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi
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 offer powerful personal stories about overcoming obstacles and finding strength through struggle as a cleft-affected person.
“We want to raise awareness and destigmatize cleft,” said Mamta Carroll, Smile Train’s Senior Vice President and Regional Director, Asia. “We’re creating an enabling environment to encourage and empower our cleft warriors. We hope to drive home the message that cleft is completely treatable and we as a community are here to offer support.”
In India, more than 35,000 children are born with a cleft condition yearly. Many of them are bullied, ostracized or isolated. If left untreated, cleft can cause numerous health issues including difficulty with eating, hearing and breathing.
“Estimates show India having the highest rate of cleft births globally. Addressing barriers individuals with cleft face and ensuring 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 created a space for people to openly talk about their needs, experiences and aspirations. I am proud of the participants, my colleagues and our global commitment to the cleft community.”
Smile Train recently marked 21 years of impact in India and has supported more than 650,000 cleft surgeries for children in need through a network of 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 legacy providing free cleft care across the country.
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 thrive.To learn more about how Smile Train’s India’s sustainable approach, please visit smiletrainindia.org.