Recently crowned Miss Universe 2018, pride of the Philippines, Catriona Gray visited Smile Train’s local partner hospital, Philippine Band of Mercy, to help raise awareness for children with clefts in the Philippines and all around the world.
In the Philippines, it is estimated that one in every 500 children are born with a cleft lip and/or palate each year. This results in about 5,000 new Filipinos who often face a number of complications from having a cleft, such as difficulty eating, breathing, and speaking. In addition, many of these children face social stigma, making it challenging for them to go to school and find a job.
In an effort to show the universe the value of spreading smiles, Gray had the opportunity to meet with some of Smile Train’s cleft patients and their families and learn more about the organization’s sustainable model. “Through the partnership with Smile Train and The Miss Universe Organization, I am grateful to be connected with a cause that has been giving smiles and second chances at life all over the world for the past 20 years,” said Gray. As Miss Universe.“I look forward to lending my voice and a helping hand to continue to raise awareness for children with clefts globally, including my home country, the Philippines.”
Smile Train, the world’s leading cleft organization supports local medical professionals and institutions to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to patients in need. Gray’s visit taught her that children with clefts need more than just surgery. She learned about the importance of pre-surgical orthodontics that help prepare babies for surgery and speech therapy that helps children and adults who have had cleft palate surgery improve their speech.
“Over the last four years, we have been working with The Miss Universe Organization to help raise awareness about cleft around the world. We are proud to have, Catriona Gray, advocate for our cause. As the world has seen, she is a champion of children in need,” said Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Smile Train’s Area Director for South East Asia. “With her help, we know that we can create a brighter future for more children affected with clefts here and across the globe.”