A Banner Year for Elizabeth

Elizabeth's family tries to find the cleft surgery she desperately needs, in the middle of a lockdown.

Elizabeth before cleft surgery

The first months of 2020 were stressful for Maricel and Edward. Maricel was pregnant, and when the stay-at-home orders came down in Davao City, Philippines, they could think of little besides their unborn child's safety.

When the labor pains hit, the family left the house for the first time in weeks. At the hospital, a new fear hit the young couple – their baby was unexpectedly born with a cleft. Feeling that their daughter, Elizabeth, would start life with a disadvantage broke the couple's heart. "We wished we could give her a good life," said Maricel.

Seeking treatment for Elizabeth's condition in the middle of a pandemic turned out to be quite challenging. "I had to quit my job at a restaurant to take care of my newborn, and Edward's job as a driver was put to a halt for two months because of the city's lockdown," Marciel said. Given the situation, there was no extra money to pay hospitals and doctors. Everything went towards food and basic needs.

Elizabeth checking into the hospital with her mother Maricel

Thankfully, Maricel learned about Smile Train partner Tebow CURE through one of their neighbors, giving them a new sense of hope for their daughter's future.

Elizabeth after cleft surgery

Elizabeth received life-changing cleft surgery at no cost to the family, thanks to Smile Train's donors around the world!

Maricel and Edward left the hospital knowing that for all the difficulty and stress that 2020 brought, it was also the year that brought them their daughter and a surgery that will change her life forever.


Our impact in the Philippines

as of February 2023


cleft surgeries sponsored since 2001


active partner surgeons


active partner hospitals