A child born with cleft lip and palate suffers from low esteem and tends to play “hide and seek” or shy away from others and the high costs for the operation usually prevents parents from the lower-income group to seek corrective surgery for their children.
Statistics have shown that one in very 600 babies born in Malaysia suffers from cleft lip and palate and if left unchecked, these children may also suffer from psychological issues as they grow up.
In 2003, through the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities, the Gift of Smile campaign was started and the funds collected from this initiative were able to bring back the smiles onto the faces of these young children.
More than 100 children have undergone corrective surgeries and this year in conjunction with the McDonald's World Children's Day celebration, the initiative is being supported by its corporate partners, Pantai Medical Centre (PMC) and ING Insurance Berhad (INGIB).
A total of RM200,000 was collected through McDonald's 25th anniversary charity gala dinner while RMCC, McDonald's charity arm, had contributed RM200,000 to bring the total amount to RM400,000.
INGIB had pledged RM160,000 for a two-year period and PMC had committed its team of medical experts to conduct corrective surgery on the selected children.
“The high cost for operation is usually a deterrent but through the funds collected, we would be able to make their lives more meaningful,'' said McDonald's managing director Azmi Jaafar during the World Children's Day celebrations held at the McDonald's Sri Damansara Drive-Thru.
He said since the campaign was launched four years ago, they were able to create a greater awareness among the Malaysian public on this repairable birth defect.
Malaysia Children Welfare Council (MKKM) president Tan Sri Zaleha Ismail who accepted the donation from RMCC president Fadillah Yakin, said these problems are non-life threatening and can be easily corrected through surgery and she was thankful to McDonalds, INGIB and PMC for making a difference to more than 150 children who have so far benefited from this cause.
Members of the media, parents of the children who had undergone corrective surgery and guests were earlier given a video presentation on the corrective surgery and the “Gift of Smile” by Dr. Kim Tan of PMC
As the event was held in conjunction with World Children's Day, Malaysian idol Dina and Adek Puteri gave a duet performance and sang the popular number “Aren't They All Our Children”.
Parents with children born with cleft Lip and palate may submit their applications by filling up a form at any McDonald's restaurant nationwide.
However priority is given to families with household income of RM2,000 and below. For details call: 012-3657374 or visit www.mcdonalds.com.my