DND enters into MOA to help reach out to children born with clefts
DND enters into MOA to help reach out to children born with clefts

To help bring smile to children who are born with cleft lips/palates through Project SMILE, the Department of National Defense (DND), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Phil.), Inc. (FICCI), and the Smile Train Philippines Foundation Inc., (STPFI) signed a tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) today at the DND Social Hall in order to help find children with cleft lip/palates who may avail of free surgery that Smile Train offers.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Mr. Rex Daryanani, President of FICCI, and Ms. Kimberly Alice Joanna C. Flaviano, Vice President of STPFI, committed to assist in echoing information about Smile Train and referring patients to the charity’s partner hospitals across the country.

Since many families are unaware that there are free surgeries for cleft lips/palates for children with inborn condition, the Foundation launched Project Smile by finding partners that could form a network through which information could reach far flung areas to look for possible beneficiaries.

In his keynote message during the MOA signing ceremony, Secretary Lorenzana commended Smile Train for its charitable work in the Philippines and pledged to direct those in the field, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to take part in disseminating information to help children with cleft lip / palate and their families. He also enjoined the AFP commanders to help out when they are called upon to support the project. “I welcome this signing. Let us help this sector of society because they need our assistance,” said Secretary Lorenzana, who has been supporting such advocacy in his personal capacity before he became the country’s Defense chief.

He also expressed his empathy to persons with cleft lip/palate whose difficulties were explained by Ms. Flaviano when she presented an overview of the advocacy. According to her, an estimated 5,000 babies are born with cleft each year in the Philippines and they often have difficulties speaking, eating, drinking, and even breathing properly, making them unable to attend school or hold a job later in life.

For his part, Mr. Daryanani conveyed FICCI’s commitment to the partnership with the Foundation as its cause truly changes the lives not only of the children with clefts but also their families and the communities where they live. Members of the FICCI have already mobilized their employees and personal networks to reach more patients across the country. “The Chamber believes that this partnership with the DND is the start of more partnerships with other public and private groups for a cleft-free Philippines and invites more groups to partner with it in bringing children afflicted with cleft to lead normal lives,” Daryanani said.

“Smile Train looks forward to helping more Filipinos born with clefts,” said Ms. Flaviano who is also the Smile Train Area Director for Southeast Asia. “This partnership will reach children in places that we are able to organically reach, and we look forward to being given the opportunity to create a brighter future for those in need and the country.”

During the ceremony, the MOA signatories also agreed to utilize the power of social media as an effective platform for sharing the advocacy not only for widest information dissemination but also to exchange messages and feedback from possible beneficiaries or future partners.

For more information on free cleft surgeries with Project Smile, please text 2158-NGTI (6484) for Globe/TM or 2929058-NGTI (6484) for Smart/TNT/Sun. You can also call 1-800-1-888-7246 for PLDT/Smart and (02) 406-4801 for other networks. Follow Smile Train Philippines on Twitter and Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and like us on Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines