New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) On her 36th birthday Sunday, Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai has been named the first goodwill ambassador for Smile Train, a charity that works worldwide for children with cleft lip.
The former Miss World has partnered with the NGO, in association with her own charity - Aishwarya Rai Foundation - and will spread awareness and garner resources to help the movement, said a press release.
"God has given me plenty of reasons to smile and I feel it's time to spread it around. There are a lot of children out there who so desperately need help, but can't receive timely care because their families cannot afford this surgery or are ill-educated about this condition.
"Working with Smile Train, if I can make a difference in their lives, it will certainly make me feel honoured and blessed," Aishwarya said.
As the goodwill ambassador, Aishwarya will actively work to help Smile Train provide free cleft surgery to children in 76 developing countries around the world, including India.
According to information provided by the NGO, over one million children await cleft surgery in India alone, and currently only 50 percent children born with cleft in India get the medical assistance required. And Smile Train officials feel Aishwarya will be of immense help in taking forward their movement globally.
"Aishwarya's universal appeal and star power will be a priceless asset to our organisation, and we consider it a great privilege to have her represent our organisation," Smile Train president Brian Mullaney said.
"Her poise, intelligence and dedication to our mission will catapult the work that we do to new and exciting heights. Since she is a global superstar, it makes her the perfect representative for our global organisation. There is no corner of the world where she isn't known, and in each of those corners, there is a Smile Train hospital that is helping kids every day of the year," he added.
The rising concern for kids born with a cleft was raised worldwide through Smile Train's recent Oscar-winning movie "Smile Pinki". The 39-minute documentary made by Megan Mylan shows the story of a poor girl in rural India whose life is transformed when she receives free surgery to correct her cleft lip. It was made in Hindi and Bhojpuri and won the 81st Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).