Who We Are: Children’s Charity Organization
Every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft. One in 10 will die before their first birthday. Many of the children who survive live their lives in shame, hiding their faces because of this tragic deformity. Operation Smile was founded on the belief that no children should suffer or die because of a facial deformity.
Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity committed to saving lives and healing smiles. With a presence in more than 60 countries, Operation Smile provides free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. We are driven every day by the simple reality that with access to safe surgery, these children have the chance to lead a better life and become a vibrant part of their community.
Through our international network of community-based volunteers, including more than 5,000 medical professionals from over 80 countries, Operation Smile delivers quality surgical care and medical services for vulnerable populations. We reach some of the most impoverished regions in the world where there is limited or no access to safe surgery. Since its founding almost 30 years ago, Operation Smile has provided more than 2 million comprehensive healthcare evaluations and over 200,000 free surgeries.
Operation Smile builds sustainable medical infrastructures in each country by training local doctors and other medical professionals so they have the knowledge and resources to treat their own communities year-round. We also help maintain medical equipment; develop in-country Foundations that manage their own resources; and establish Care Centers that provide year-round surgical and related medical treatment.
Operation Smile Singapore is part of the Operation Smile global network and a resource centre that exists for Asia, providing many of the resources needed by Asian partner countries. The Singapore office also aims to instil a sense of volunteerism among Singapore residents, and expose local medical professionals to complex medical conditions not prevalent here.
In Asia, Operation Smile has presence in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Giving every child the chance to smile
Every child deserves the ability to smile and a chance to thrive. But in many parts of the world, children with cleft lip and cleft palate are hidden away, too embarrassed to attend school and face uncertain futures because their parents cannot afford to provide the surgery they need.
Our free, life-changing surgeries take as little as 45 minutes, and can give a boy or girl with a facial deformity a lifetime of smiles. Plus, every child we heal creates a ripple effect on the child's family, community and country. After surgery, the child can become a more productive member of society and enrich their community.
And when we leave a country, we leave behind a legacy of education, training and equipment building a self-sufficient global health network focused on continuing the mission and transforming lives.
Through the face of a child, we forge new partnerships, alliances and health initiatives to make the world a better place.
We hope you'll join us with your support.
Operation Smile mobilizes a world of generous hearts to heal children's smiles and transform lives across the globe.
We believe that all children deserve to live their lives with dignity. And for those suffering from cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities, dignity begins with a smile.
Driven by our universal compassion for children, we work worldwide to repair childhood facial deformities by delivering safe, effective surgical care directly to patients. The global partnerships we create, the knowledge we share and the infrastructure we build leave a legacy that lives well beyond our medical missions, making a lasting difference in our world.
Our impact is felt not just through the children we heal, but through the daily transformation of donors, volunteers and staff as we fulfill our shared vision and see immediate, life-changing results.
Operation Smile Singapore is part of a global alliance of Operation Smile Foundations and Resource Chapters dedicated to providing free treatment to children and adults suffering from cleft lips and cleft palates.
A Personal Connection:
The seeds for Operations Smile Singapore were sown in November 2003, when Gary Loh, a successful private equity investor, attended a charity dinner at the Orchard Hotel in Singapore, organized by his long-time friend Tony Tan.
He had only recently celebrated the birth of his beautiful daughter, and was in high spirits.
But that one night changed his views on life. A video was shown of an Operation Smile medical mission in Cambodia, and he felt a pang of discomfort when he realized that not all parents could share his joy of seeing their child smile and many parents had no means to correct that.
Gary thought, “How lucky I was in terms of my beautiful healthy child. I am sure every parent has a right to have a beautiful healthy child.”
Just a few months later, in early 2004, a friend had cancelled his wedding, which was booked to take place at the Four Season’s Hotel. Gary salvaged the situation, convincing his friend to donate the booking to hold an Operation Smile charity dinner.
The money raised was channeled to a mission to Cambodia in which Gary took part, and which further sealed his commitment to Operation Smile.
Remembers Gary, “I was the errand boy, running around, sweeping floors and distributing toys to visiting child beneficiaries.” He was deeply impressed with mission’s degree of professionalism.
In 2006 Gary organized an Operation Smile Charity Golf Tournament. The proceeds were again channelled to a Cambodia mission.
By this time Dr Vincent Yeow, a renowned plastic surgeon with strong philanthropic interests had come to Gary’s attention. Many of Gary’s friends and associates had urged him to meet Dr Yeow, and in the end it was a chance meeting at a golf course that brought the two together. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Their combined passion inspired Tony Tan, Khing Go, Stefanie Yuen Thio, Christine Pillsbury and Dr Beng Teck Liang, all successful professionals, to get involved in the cause and accept memberships to the Board. Thus Operation Smile Singapore, one of the region’s key resource centres was born.