The extraordinary tale of one man’s journey from the towers of Madison Avenue to the cave dwellings of China and beyond, bringing hope and joy to more than 700,000 disfigured children and their families.
Mullaney, the co-founder of Smile Train, discovered his true calling when he set out to remove the stigma of disfiguring cleft lips and palates from the world’s poorest children. With his partner and backer Charles Wang, the author set about forming an international network of committed doctors, nurses, social workers and member hospitals to ensure that reconstructive surgery would be made available to children previously hidden behind closed doors and curtains in the most remote parts of the planet. One in 700 children are born with a cleft in the United States, but most are repaired within the first year of life. Not so in places like China, Afghanistan, India and various countries in Africa, where parents cannot even afford the carfare to bring their children to a hospital for this relatively simple 45-minute procedure. In these countries, the children are seen as cursed, marked by the devil or full moon, or the result of some misdeed by the mother. In a conversational tone, Mullaney captures the enthusiasm and commitment that has transformed the physical and emotional lives of children who are able to smile in public for the first time.
A valuable, uplifting book that goes to show it only takes one person with a laser-sharp focus and a determination to confront all obstacles to make an enormous difference.