EIGHT of the 86 Miss Universe 2016 candidates Manila visited young cleft patients at Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Parañaque City Thursday morning, spending time with the newly operated patients who received free corrective surgery from international charity organization Smile Train.
From the hospital, Misses USA, Colombia, Indonesia, Great Britain, Germany, Argentina, Vietnam and Brazil later joined other beauties – Myanmar, China, US Virgin Islands, Nigeria, Mexico, India, Tanzania, Haiti and Dominican Republic – for empowerment workshops with healed cleft patients at the Conrad Manila Hotel in Pasay City.
According to organizers, the candidates chosen for this activity have been personally involved in Smile Train projects in their respective countries.
Reigning Miss Unvierse Pia Wurtzbach joined the hospital visit reportedly begging off form a trip to Coron, Palawan in favor of the charitable activity. Like the candidates with her she had also participated in Smile Train charities in the past.
Speaking on behalf of Wurtzbach and the Miss Universe candidates, pageant organization president Paula Shugart thanked Smile Train and sponsor Philippine Airlines for reaching far and wide the Philippines’ 7,100 islands to help children with cleft palates.
Meanwhile, in an interview with The Manila Times, Smile Train International Vice President for Development Troy Reinhart said that their partnership with Miss Universe made it easier for them to approach corporate sponsors to fund their advocacy.
Smile Train has already helped around 45,000 patients in the Philippines and 1.3 million worldwide. One of them is 19-year-old Cherry, who joined the event and expressed that she now feels empowered and confidently beautiful because of her successful surgery and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mingle with Miss Universe candidates.