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Yesterday in Beijing I had the immense pleasure of catching up with Shell Xue, who heads cleft charity The Smile Train in China.
Shell and her small, amazingly dedicated team, have changed the lives of over 270,000 Chinese children in recent years, including 28,447 cases last year. No child on this planet should have to live with the trauma and disfigurement of an unrepaired cleft or palate and Shell is doing her utmost to ensure life-changing treatment for children all over China.
The charity has built partnerships with 397 hospitals across China, and in September it organised the first Smile Train Medical Conference in Xi’an. Over 1,300 medical experts from partner hospitals gathered there to share their practical experience in cleft palate repair surgery. Smile Train China has also initiated a speech therapy training programme, providing crucial post-operation support for children and their families. Largely as a result of The Smile Train’s efforts, China is becoming an epicentre of cleft treatment and aftercare. It is momentous work. Whenever I attend a Smile Train hospital clinic I find it an almost unbearably moving experience.
Despite all the charity’s efforts so far, there is much left to do. It is estimated that more than 31,000 children each year are born in China with a cleft palate. And in a country where 36% of the population lives on less than US$2 a day, that means there are a lot more children to help. For that reason, our new title The Moodie Report China is donating a percentage of revenues to The Smile Train China and we are doubling our efforts to support the cause.
The Moodie Report’s connection with Smile Train China goes back to the first Moodie Report Charity Ball in Hong Kong in 2007, which raised more than US$300,000 for the charity. There Wang Li, the first recipient of cleft palate surgery under Smile Train China, described the impact of the operation in unequivocal terms.
[Wang Li as a young girl before and after her operation]
She recalled how, looking in the mirror after the surgery, she saw a different person looking back at her. “A smiling person,” she said. “I think that was the first time I ever smiled. And since then I haven’t stopped.”
In December Wang Li was delighted to share with us news of the birth of her son, Wang Xiao Lu. Yu is Wang Li’s new family name. And Xiao? Or 笑 in Chinese? What does that mean? Smile.
[Wang Li with her new-born son]
Such a nice story. And Shell is such a fine person. But life is not always fair or right or just, and sometimes it tests the best people. Right now, someone very special to her is going through the toughest of times. It seems so cruel. So for all the thousands of people in the travel retail world who have supported this charity and been moved by it, I ask you to say a prayer and perhaps light a candle for Shell and her friend. Our collective will and support can ensure that this woman’s goodness is truly rewarded.