Alliance Highlights – January 2019

Alliance Highlights – January 2019

Welcome to Another Great Year As We Continue to Expand Around The Globe

Dear Friends of Alliance for Smiles,

As we reflect on our last year, and our world is more in flux than ever, it’s heartening to know that our work is contributing to international goodwill, friendship and understanding.

One of our cleft baby parent’s wrote:
“You have brought light into the life of my family. Now we have hope and know that anything is possible.
Americans from across many seas came to help us from their hearts.”

This quote demonstrates that not only are we saving lives (Sadly, cleft children are sometimes brutalized because of the intense shame they bring to families – often believing that their child has been touched by the devil.), but that we are also building bridges across cultures to create an international platform for peace.

It is easy to lose sight of how each of us can, in our own way, make a positive impact in our lifetime.

Repairing cleft lips and palates gives people hope, reminds them that they are not alone, that they are worth saving and that they bring value to this world.

It is our great pleasure to serve anyone, anywhere without a charge. We can only promise this
unconditionally with your help.

Thank You,

Alison Healy
Executive Director


On April 21st, 2018 the Annual Night of Smiles Gala was a thrilling night filled with new surprises!

All the kindness and smiles made this night unforgettable. We could not have done it without the generosity and love of our supporters.

This gala marked a milestone for Alliance for Smiles, as it was the first gala organized by our brand new AfS family.

Alison Healy, Executive Director, Paul Vazquez, Director of Operations (well, not so new!), Yulla-May Nicolas, Program Coordinator, Jeremy Rhodes, Financial Supervisor, Kit Rasmussen, Marketing Consultant and Helen Manlai, Consultant.

We are pleased to announce that 94% of the net income from the gala was utilized for missions and helped many underserved children around the world.

Don’t miss our next Gala on April 6th, 2019. We will be celebrating our 15th anniversary and we can’t wait to share all we accomplished over the year.

The AfS team is already working on a fabulous menu, creative entertainment, and fun ways to get involved with the organization… Because you too can make a difference in a child life. Save the date : April 6th!

Read more about our 2018 Gala Here.


Do you wish that more people understood the importance of providing treatment for cleft lips and palates?

Are you looking for a way to share your Alliance for Smiles experience with others?

If the answer is yes, then our GoGo Smile Ambassador program is for you! Ambassadors fundraise on behalf of AfS and help spread the word via social media and email.

Setting up a GoGo Smile page takes less than 15 minutes and can be done on your own schedule. We help with all of the logistics and provide guidance on communication.

The most important part of being an Ambassador is an eagerness to explain why our work is important to you and a willingness to share that with friends and family!

Find out more here.

Got the travel Bug? Are you a Social Media maniac? We Got Ya Covered!

AfS is now offering unprecedented opportunities to join our professional teams around the world.

If you are 18 or over and think a medicine career might be just what you want to learn more about, come check us out.

Hands-on learning experiences with professional surgeons and nurses is all part of the 9-14 day fellowship.

Contact: Paul Vazquez,

Now, if you are a social media wiz and want to spread word of our good work using iMovie interviews, various social media platforms and your creativity over a 9 -14 day internship, contact Yulla-May Nicolas,

A Tribute to Barbara Fisher – 14 Years and 34 Missions

Barbara Fisher has been a stellar volunteer for Alliance for Smiles since it was first founded in 2004. She came in as a
major organizer for AfS’ first medical mission to Jiujang China.

Without her support in getting medical supplies donated and equipment lent, AfS would never have been able to facilitate that first mission, and her willingness to serve has been
exemplary ever since.

After 14 years and 34 missions. Barbara has decided to retire from her 40 hour a week volunteerism. She will be missed for her tireless leadership, unending dedication to the children who need our help, and for her devotion to our mission.

Below are some of our stories…and your donations make them happen. Donate before the end of the year!

AfS Mission in Sagaing, Myanmar 2018

The two weeks spent in Myanmar in March of 2018 went by in a flurry. Our dedicated medical team spent their days tirelessly operating on 88 patients.

They completed a total of 101 surgeries… with a surgical value of $449,076 USD!

These young children from all walks of life are with their families as they pose happily for a photograph that was taken outside of the hospital prior to their surgeries.

For all these children, this surgery is life changing, and often lifesaving.

Our cheerful International Medical Director, Tina Fischlin, (rightt and below) is surrounded by the many children that received surgery during the two weeks.

Read more stories about this mission here.

Marrakech, Morocco – February 2018

Unlike the majority of our trips, this medical mission was focused on teaching medical students and nurses about cleft anomalies.

We taught how to approach the most complex of cases. We spent most of our first week giving lectures and exchanging ideas and practices with our Moroccan counterparts.

The second week, we moved into the OR and worked in tandem to put into action what we taught the first week. In the end, we had 58 successful surgeries and smiling babies.

This educational method brought us a lively exchange of ideas and rich experiences in the OR. I know our team also learned much from our counterparts – from Muslim traditions in the hospital setting to a scholarship policy which allows 25% of the medical school population to attend from sub-Saharan Africa at no cost.

We left behind lots of goodwill and knowledge to encourage sustainable practices which will be shared long after we
departed the company of our new Moroccan friends.

Read more about this mission here.

Many thanks to Rotary for making this happen!

District 7720, Northeast North Carolina, District 6910 (Atlanta) and District 5150 (San Francisco), Rotary Foundation World Fund and the host Club in Marrakech-Ménara Rotary Club of District 9010.

Dream Dream for Meng Meng – Zhaotong, China 2018

Meng Meng was found at the age of three months, abandoned along a road, swaddled in a blanket. While on his way to the potato field in his village, Mr. Ma found him barely clinging to life.

He thought he was dead but noticed him sipping on a baby bottle. To make matters worse, the tiny baby had also suffered severe burns across his midsection and groin; these scars still afflict him to this day.

Mr. Ma called to his nephews in the village to assist him and engaged the local government for guidance. An elder from the village in his 70s, Mr. Ren, also heard the news and was moved to help the infant. He tried fruitlessly to enlist a family to adopt Meng Meng.

Ultimately Mr. Ren took Meng Meng in and has been raising him as his own ever since. Meng Meng knows him only as Ye Ye, or grandfather— but savior could easily suffice.

Mr. Ren is too old now to make the arduous 5-hour journey from their home to the hospital in Zhaotong.

So, Meng Meng came to the hospital accompanied by none other than Mr. Ma, his true guardian who has been there for Meng Meng when literally no one else was.

It is so rare in life that we have the opportunity to change a life in utterly profound ways, and Mr. Ma has been that man twice in this young boy’s life. And in the process, he has taught us all what it means to be human.

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, Meng Meng went home to start his life anew.

Read more about this mission here.

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Rotary Clubs and Districts Worldwide

China Population Welfare Foundation

Shanghai Ciguang Skin Health Foundation

Wenzhou People’s Alliance for Smiles

Bright Faces

Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco

Frankenberg Family Foundation

WAC Lighting

Redwood Credit Union

Hedco Foundation

Hong Kong Business Association

Shanghai Guo Feng Charity Foundation

Thanks Kathleen for Your Beautiful Art Work!

Kathleen Kwan of Hong Kong is a painter and long-time supporter and donor of AfS. She has often used her beautiful water color work to help raise funds for the children of AfS. We are very grateful for her sustained support and use of her artistic skills to heal those who so desperately need our help.

Do You Know About our Programs?

Surgical Mission: Our standard two-week surgical mission is staffed by 12 to 15 medical professionals, supported by several non-medical volunteers, who fly in from their homeland to operate on 80-100 children. We can also include a dental component to the mission if this is needed.

Teaching Mission and Training Team: We send a smaller team of medical professionals to train local doctors and nurses on how to operate on very complex cleft cases.

Treatment Center Mission: Our goal is to set up centers that offer long-term comprehensive care for patients with clefts, providing services such as speech therapy, orthodontia and social support.

Medical Fellowship: The Alliance for Smiles International Medical Fellowship program is designed for pre-med students who are interested in entering the medical field. The International Medical Fellowship is a 14-day, once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity to learn about cleft surgeries by supporting and observing highly trained doctors and nurses on an AfS mission.

Save the Dates! Upcoming Events