Ray and His Family Held Out Hope for 16 Years

When they heard about Smile Train, they knew they finally found what they were looking for

Ray holding a photo of himself before cleft surgery

When little Ray was born with a cleft, it sent shockwaves through his family. No one was sure what to do, not even his mother, Mai.

For a long time, getting treatment was just a dream. He grew up used to food getting stuck in his palate when he ate and water coming out of his nose when he drank.

Ray before cleft surgery holding a basket
Ray before cleft surgery holding a basket

Struggling to speak was also just part of life. Despite all of Ray’s efforts, certain sounds seemed impossible to make. It was another addition to a long list of challenges to overcome. His mother feared for his future. What would he do if no one could understand him? 

One thing his cleft never got in the way of was making friends. The other children in Ray’s village accepted and supported him wholeheartedly. And they never lost hope for him. 

Ray greeting two of his friends as they leave their doorway
Now, Ray is never shy about greeting his friends with a smile

Their hope paid off when his family heard about Smile Train partner Benh Vien Nhi Dong I. There, Ray could receive the surgery he’d been dreaming of for free!

Family support and excitement fuelled them through their long trip to the hospital. Knowing that he was in good hands let everyone finally breathe easy after 16 years.

Today, Ray smiles confidently, knowing that the first big step of his cleft journey is complete — and that Smile Train will be there for whatever comes next.

Ray lined up with his friends, all smiling and posing for the camera. Ray is in the middle
Ray’s friends will always be there for him

Help a cleft-affected family take the first step.