I cried last Saturday.

It was at a meeting and it was rather unexpected.

The meeting was attended by a roomful of students from various schools.

It was held at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the purpose of the meeting was to discuss a common, uh, purpose.

We watched a video together.

And that was the culprit for my tears. I can’t show you the specific video I saw because it’s restricted access, but I can show you a similar one.

As I stood by the doorway watching the video, learning of how some families travel for two days on horseback while other families sell almost everything they own just to make the trip for the chance to give their children a normal life, I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up furiously around my eyes and rolling down my cheeks.

I try not to cry in public but sometimes it’s impossible.

We were at an Operation Smile Singapore meeting. Student volunteers from various schools had come together to learn how they can help cleft lip and palate victims from less affluent societies who may otherwise never have a chance at a normal life.

In many less developed countries, cleft victims suffer rejection and abuse for their facial deformities all their lives because they can’t afford treatment.

In Asia, 1 in 500 babies are born with cleft lips and/or palates.

Operation Smile, a global charity organisation, dispatches surgical volunteers to all parts of the world to treat these children. But even with Operation Smile missions operating on a regular basis, many more cleft babies are born every day.

Here’s another video that explains how bleak the situation can look for some victims unless more people around the world step in to help.

Operation Smile goes a long way in helping turn tears of sadness into tears of joy for many underprivileged familes around the world. But there are simply too many needing help and some families never receive the chance.

As a long-term project, the students I met last Saturday have volunteered their time and energy to work on raising awareness and raising funds for Operation Smile missions, so that more families can receive aid.

It was the first time we were meeting, so ice-breaking activities were conducted.

Afterwards, the students were split into groups to brainstorm ideas.

The Raffles Junior College contingent.

At the end of the sessions, the representatives from each contingent presented their ideas to the rest of the gathering.

Bella from Raffles Junior College.

Min Jia from Republic Polytechnic.

Ryan and Angela from Hwa Chong Junior College.

The girls from Raffles Girls School. Didn’t get a chance to speak to them so I don’t know their names.

The students are a delight! It’s so heart-warming to feel their enthusiasm and hear all their creative ideas.

Me with Angela and Bella who are, incidentally, cousins!

Me with Min Jia, who has actually already graduated from RP, therefore isn’t quite a student at this point of time.

In any case, you’ll be hearing more about Operation Smile from me in time to come. In the meantime, you can visit the Operation Smile Singapore website to learn more.

If you’re a student and want to help either as an individual or by getting your school involved, get in touch with me and I’ll help you get started. =)

Thank you for reading!