Smile Train Celebrated Its 100,000th Cleft Surgery Milestone in Africa

The organization’s singular focus and sustainable model empowering local medical professionals paves the way for continued smiles

NEW YORK, Oct. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — From October 21-22, Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization, celebrated its 100,000th cleft surgery milestone in Africa with a number of different activities planned each day. The celebration took place in Nairobi with Smile Train’s President and CEO Susannah Schaefer and the organization’s local staff, partners, medical professionals, and corporate donors from across the continent who have all made the milestone possible.

Smile Train has been actively supporting programs in Africa since 2002. In that time, the organization has developed local partnerships at 244 partner hospitals. In addition to cleft surgery, they actively support training of nurses, anesthetists, surgeons, speech therapists and orthodontists in cleft care, nutrition programs, speech therapy and orthodontics.

Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training and education so that they can provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in their own communities. Smile Train’s singular focus on cleft treatment has enabled the organization to support safe, quality, and consistent cleft care for children in need all over the world, including 33 countries in Africa. Unlike other cleft charities, Smile Train builds the capacity of local health systems; fostering hope, confidence and lifestyle for both patients and communities-at-large. The strength of the organization’s local partnerships throughout Africa has made the 100,000th cleft surgery milestone possible.

“The impact of cleft is far more than just cosmetic – children with clefts that go untreated often have difficulty eating, breathing, speaking and ultimately thriving,” said Dr. Esther Njoroge, Vice President and Regional Director, Africa. “In fact many of these children face social stigma, making it challenging for them to go to school and find a job. That is why Smile Train’s local partnership model is so important – it is vital in giving children and their families access to quality care 365 days a year. Our 100,000th cleft surgery is a true celebration of our partnerships and an example of what can be achieved with sustained support and collaboration – working together we are truly changing the world one smile at a time.”

As a part of the celebration, Smile Train Africa hosted the following activities from October 21-22:

  • October 21 – Smile Train hosted a Family Fun Day to kick off the milestone celebration with former cleft patients and their families. There was food, face painting and entertainment.
  • October 22 – Smile Train held a private gala dinner to celebrate all the people who contribute to their work and all the local medical professionals who help change the lives of children with clefts in their own communities. During the gala Zena Tuba, the recipient of the 100,000th surgery was honored. Zena is a three-year-old girl born with a unilateral cleft lip who received treatment in Pemba, Mozambique. Attendees included: Smile Train’s President and CEO Susannah Schaefer and the organization’s local staff, partners, medical professionals, and corporate donors from all regions of Africa.

“We are proud to reach such a huge milestone in Africa. We are able to do so with the support from our local medical partners, corporate partners, donors, patients and their families,  ambassadors, and local community members who have all played an important role in ensuring that every child – no matter where they are born – has access to quality cleft care,” says Susannah Schaefer, President and CEO, Smile Train.

For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to make a donation, please visit To refer a patient or support cleft care in Africa, you may follow them on Facebook (, on Twitter @SmileTrainAfric

About Smile Train
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. To learn more about how Smile Train’s sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit For more information about Smile Train’s work in Africa, please contact [email protected].