herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Marisa Mackle: Time to change lives, one smile at a time

Is there anything as beautiful as a baby's first smile? I doubt it. When you're having a hard day, all the little munchkins have to do is look up and smile and your heart melts. Everybody loves a smiler and, no matter what age you are, you can brighten somebody's day with a smile.

Try it. Give at least 10 smiles a day to complete strangers. Most will smile back. Some won't, of course, but they're the people who need your smile more than anybody.

I have noticed recently that the people who smile the most are the very young or the very old. The young have not experienced life's hardships yet and the old have seen too much to feel self-conscious. It's the people of ages in between who could do with smiling a bit more.

Everything changes, however, when I take my mother's dog for a walk. Men, women and children of all ages stop to chat when I'm out with him. They smile because he makes them happy. They trust somebody with a dog enough to stop and converse easily.

They smile at my son, too. He makes them laugh because he says "hello" to absolutely everyone he meets. You would have to be made of steel not to return his smile.

But imagine if your baby couldn't smile? And imagine if nobody ever smiled at him either?

Shunned

Many parents, the globe over, have children who cannot return their adoring smiles. These unfortunate kids are born with facial deformities, and some parents cannot afford the simple surgical procedures that could help change their child's life forever. The number of babies born with a cleft lip and/or palate in the developing world is as high as one in 700. Sadly, many of these children are shunned by their communities. But there is hope. A charity called Operation Smile, made up of medical volunteers, has provided free surgery for more than 160,000 children since 1982.

Irish mum-of-two and paediatric dentist Eleanor McGovern, who has done amazing work with this charity, is encouraging all parents to hold a coffee morning to raise funds on Friday, June 17 or Saturday, June 18. Invite around your mummy friends and anyone with a bump, baby or buggy to contribute a few euro or whatever they can give and have a fun catch-up in aid of a brilliant cause.

A new smile for a baby costs just €240. Please help make the world a brighter, happier place.

For more information call 01 667 6659, or email Eleanor@operationsmile.ie or check our www.operationsmile.ie

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