Smile Stories

CHADLEEN LACDO-O

Chadleen always dreamed that she would become a singer one day, but she had trouble speaking and smiling, let alone singing, because she was born with a cleft palate. “What kept me going was the love and support that I saw and felt in my family, and my dream that one day God would let me sing. I kept hoping that one day a miracle would happen and my cleft palate would simply disappear.” Chadleen kept singing despite ridicule from her classmates, but always hoped that one day she would sing without the difficulty caused by her cleft palate. A miracle happened when Operation Smile came to Cebu in the Philippines. At age four, Chadleen was given the chance to receive surgery to repair her cleft palate and reach her full potential as a singer. When Operation Smile journeyed to the Philippines in 1999 during the World Journey of Hope, Chadleen traveled to the medical mission site to have her cleft palate reconstructed. Eight years later, Chadleen is still singing, but with a newfound confidence. At age 11, Chadleen was a grand finalist in a local amateur singing contest in the Philippines and traveled to Little Big Star in Cebu City to perform in front of a large crowd—this time drawing applause, instead of ridicule. Chadleen later had the honor of singing before the U.S. Senate on behalf of children around the world who are born with facial deformities. She also thrilled crowds at our annual gala events in New York and Washington, D.C. in 2011. Because of the life changing surgery that repaired her cleft palate, Chadleen now has the confidence and ability to sing beautifully. As she continues to sing, her voice serves as a beacon of hope for other children born with facial deformities to have their lives changed forever.

JANE ROSE

“Why do they keep calling me ‘bungi’ (cleft) when my name is Jane Rose?” See how as a result of surgery, Jane Rose is no longer defined by her cleft condition.

JOSEPH

Everywhere he went, Joseph was called a cruel name — “bungi” meaning cleft lip. The bullying he experienced at school was so severe that he returned home each day in tears. At six years old, Joseph dropped out of school just to avoid being teased. Watch to see how Joseph’s surgery gave him the opportunity to pursue his education and a chance at a brighter future!

JUPITER

Jupiter’s neighbors used pinch him to make him go away. They never wanted to be around the boy they called “bungi” (cleft). See how for Jupiter, a free surgery means a chance to finally play with the other children!