As a part of the year-long Smile Torch journey, Miss Diva Universe 2019, Smile Train India, the country’s largest cleft charity and its partner hospital JIPMER, welcomed the Smile Torch to Pondicherry. The Smile Torch is a unique, national initiative for creating renewed awareness about clefts and its treatment. The Torch began its journey on February 8, 2019 on National Cleft Day in Varanasi and is travelling across India to help sensitize communities about the challenges faced by babies born with clefts.
Miss Diva Universe 2019, Vartika Singh, who will be representing India at the Miss Universe pageant in December 2019 said, “I believe every child has the right to live a healthy and productive life. Babies born with clefts also deserve the opportunity to follow their dreams and experience life to the fullest. Smile Train India is doing great work across the country to raise awareness and sensitize people about the lesser known cause of clefts. I congratulate Smile Train India on recently celebrating their 600,000th cleft surgery milestone in India and I am excited to be a part of their journey towards creating one million smiles in India.” Vartika Singh spent time with cleft patients and their families and brought cheer to children with clefts.
“Through our partnership with The Miss Universe Organization, we are honored to be working with Vartika to help raise awareness for Smile Train and children with clefts in India,” said Mamta Carrol, Vice President & Regional Director, Asia. “On behalf of Smile Train India, we wish her the best as she competes in the upcoming Miss Universe pageant in December. We are very proud of her achievements and look forward to her continued support.”
It is estimated that more than 35,000 children are born with clefts every year in India. Since 2000, Smile Train India has been actively involved in supporting free cleft treatment for children with clefts.
Since January 2016, The Miss Universe Organization and Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, have been involved in a charitable partnership to help raise awareness for children with clefts globally. The relationship has helped provide opportunities for the reigning Miss Universe and country state titleholders to get involved with Smile Train’s global initiatives in the 90+ countries where the charity helps children.