Caught Caring: Jane Kaczmarek and Smile Train

01/21/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Celebrity Baby Blog – Caught Caring

For most of us smiling is an effortless act, occurring dozens of times — spontaneously — throughout the course of a day. Children afflicted with a cleft lip and palate are unable to smile, however, leading to isolation and depression. All their suffering could be alleviated with a surgery lasting 45 minutes and costing just $250, but for many the price tag is quite simply too steep.

The Smile Train has made it a mission to provide free cleft surgery for millions of children living in underdeveloped countries, as well as free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals. Malcolm in the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek recently traveled to India on behalf of the organization, and was struck by the work that’s being done. “It’s such a tangible way of knowing that you’re making a difference,” she explained in a recent interview. “You are giving children a life.”

“They will go to school, they’ll be able to get a job. They’ll be able to have a friend…Knowing you are able to give another mother a chance to see [her] child smile, is the greatest gift a mother can give.”

Courtesy Smile Train

Click below to learn more about Smile Train and their mission.

Focused on 76 of the world’s poorest countries, Smile Train differentiates itself from other facial deformity charities by focusing solely on cleft lip and palate issues. It also performs the surgery for less than any other cleft charity, and with the best overall safety and quality record.

Of course a child’s road to recovery doesn’t end with the surgery, and Smile Train provides continuous support afterward, including dental care, speech therapy and orthodontic work. Sometimes help even begins beforehand, with the poorest patients who are too malnourished to withstand the procedure. For those boys and girls, Smile Train provides food and care.

In India alone, the organization will provide 50,000 cleft repairs this year — and no child in need will be turned away. Vowing to return each year for a week, Jane noted in a separate interview,

“Without the operation chances are these children won’t go to school or make friends or find a spouse; If they make it to adulthood it’s often the life of a beggar that they’ll have. So it makes a huge difference — it’s not just cosmetic surgery.”

To find out how you can help, click here. Jane is mom to Frances Genevieve, 13, George Edward, 10, and Mary Louisa, 7, with estranged husband Bradley Whitford.

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Showing 4 comments

Casandra on

I was born with a bilateral cleft lip/palate and think that this, along with Operation Smile, is a great opportunty for children who would otherwise face isolation and redicule from others.

Bonnie on

My child was born with a cleft lip and palate. These children are able to smile, their smile is just a little different because their top lips are separated. I think charities such as these are GREAT causes, but they misrepresent the smiling issue.

Tani on

My eldest daughter was born with a bilateral cleft lip/palate and is now such a stunning seven year old, the scar is hardly noticible, she only has a slight, but endering lisp. we have three more girls all unaffected, however my husbeand was born with a bilateral cleft lip/palate also.
The advances in surgery to day , compared with 30 years ago is amazing. The treatment in Australia is followed through till aged 30. Amazing, perfect teeth, braces, plates, collegen in the lips , plastic surgery, speech therapy and all free to our little aussie kids. We are the lucky country.
Please realise this is such a worthy cause, help these children.

Christian L. on

I warms my soul to see even celebrities taking the time to care for our 3rd world friends across the globe

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