WATCH | SA’s Miss Universe and Miss USA spread Smile Train hope

Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi and Miss USA Cheslie Kryst led a virtual card making activity on the official Miss Universe Instagram page to help spread smiles and awareness for Smile Train, an organisation that provides free cleft surgery across the globe.

The reigning title-holders recounted their experiences with Smile Train, while answering questions from their fans and followers.

They also sent out messages of hope and inspiration to encourage people who are living in isolation during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Tunzi said: “It’s a difficult thing to be alone because of social distancing and the message is for them [cleft patients] to keep strong and to know that we are here and that we are together in this global virtual community.

“Sending my love and light to all [cleft] parents and patients.”

Kryst said: “This pandemic is exacerbating the isolation and especially affecting those who have cleft lips and palates.

“You may feel like an outcast, but we know and your families know that you’re the same as us, and hopefully, these cards are going to make you feel better.”

According to a Smile Train press release, every three minutes a baby is born with a cleft lip or palate.

Smile Trains Africa’s PR and communications manager Emily Manjeru said Smile Train would continue to reach out to local communities, dispelling myths and misinformation that surrounded cleft anomalies.

The Miss Universe Organisation teamed up with Smile Train in 2016.

Manjeru said Smile Train had been actively supporting programmes in Africa since 2002.

In that time, the organisation had developed local partnerships with more than 245 partner hospitals and over 25 medical partners in 38 countries throughout Africa to provide free cleft treatment, she said,  adding that to date, more than 113,000 cleft surgeries had been performed across Africa.

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