Smile Bangladesh was founded by Dr. Shahid Aziz of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark, NJ. As a volunteer medical administrator for Healing the Children, NE, Inc. I conducted the initial site visit for Dr. Aziz in advance of his first cleft lip and palate mission to Bangladesh in 2006 with Impact Foundation Bangladesh. Now, Aziz and his team of volunteer surgeons, nurses and anesthetists travel twice a year to operate for free on children born with cleft deformities. In 2005, I was told that in the entire country of Bangladesh had only eight doctors specializing in plastic surgery, this in a country of $150 million people.
While born in the US, Aziz's father was from Bangladesh and instilled in his son the idea of service to others. He has passed that along to the benefit of children whose smiles would, without Smile Bangladesh, perhaps forever have remained less than perfect, their lives stigmatized, their nutrition compromised, by this deformity. Here are two videos highlighting the wonderful work of Smile Bangladesh volunteers. Above is an overview of the trip with a close look at the need for this type of skilled intervention. Below is the story of one young woman from Bangladesh, Shenjuti, born with a cleft lip who was able, as a dental student from Columbia University, to give back to her community.
Shahid Aziz Brings 'Smiles' to Bangladesh