Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft — often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. In some places these children are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can't afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a normal life. Operation Smile travels to countries all over the world to restore smiles to these children, performing over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. Dignity and hope have been restored through the work of helping doctors all over the world. This series specifically examines the cleft lip and palate epidemic in Latin America, where mothers, struggling with poverty and lacking access to basic preventative care, engage in activities like smoking and drinking that increase the prevalance of cleft lips and palates in newborn children.
I believe that images are the best weapons we have in the fight against global issues like poverty, widespread illness, and violence. As photographers, we have the power to illuminate bits of light amidst the madness; light that pervades even in the most abysmal circumstances. It's our responsibility to push people towards that light and to encourage people to do more by unveiling more of that light with their own special gifts and encouragements. We live in a beautiful world and I feel so lucky to be able to document that.
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