My name is
Katelyn Edwards, a sophomore at the University of Tampa, and hey, I love to
smile. So does my little brother Spencer. However, born with a cleft lip and
palate, Spencer was physiologically unable to smile, speak, or eat properly.
Fortunately, my family was able to afford the expensive surgeries my brother's
cleft necessitated. But many aren't so lucky.
developing countries, children with unrepaired clefts are ostracized from
society, suffering a life of shame and isolation. In Uganda, for instance, a
child born with a cleft is given the name "Ajok," which literally translates to
"cursed by God"; the new born is either killed immediately or left out to die. Parents
fail to realize that a simple surgery could easily correct such a birth defect,
or they are too poor to afford it. That's where the Smile Train comes in: the
nonprofit organization trains local surgeons across the globe to give cleft lip
surgeries to children for free.
That's a lot of free smiles, people.
This July, I plan to travel to the Ghana, where every 1
in every 700 children is born with a cleft, to volunteer alongside cleft
surgeons at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital,
a partner of Smile Train, in
Kumasi, Ghana. There, I will be blogging for the Smile Train website, capturing
the physical transformations of these anomalous children, both in words and in
photography. Through my experience, I plan to shed light on a humanitarian
cause that is universally under-recognized, in the hopes of raising even more
money for those in need.
I am hoping to raise a total of $10,000, to help cover the
costs of my travels (i.e. airfare, immunizations, travel insurance, tourist visa,
food, housing, etc.) and to raise as much money as possible for Smile Train
surgeries. $250 translates to one cleft surgery, one changed life, one new
help support my travels and support those who aren't blessed with a proper
smile. Say yes to my Smile Initiative- because we can change the world, one
smile at a time!
Watch my interview with CBS Channel 10 Tampa News! http://ybor.wtsp.com/news/news/350702-ut-student-strives-help-people-smile