AT least 1,000 children living with cleft lip or palate will soon be able to literally smile at the world. Hong Kong-based retail group A.S. Watson and international children’s medical charity Operation Smile are working together to provide safe and free surgeries to children living with facial deformities in Southeast Asia.
The global corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign dubbed “Give A Smile” mobilizes Watsons’ business units across Europe and Asia to raise funds for the cause and to elevate public awareness of cleft issues.
“A.S. Watson Group believes that our presence serves a greater good, wherever we are. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference to people’s lives, and we are delighted that we can help make a big difference to the lives of children with facial deformities by giving them a smile,” said Malina Ngai, group chief operating officer of A.S. Watson and a member of the company’s global CSR committee.
This year’s move to support Operation Smile on a global scale is inspired by the long-standing partnership between the local units of Watsons and Operation Smile in the Philippines. Over the course of six years, Watsons Philippines has donated a total of P15 million to fund 12 local and international surgical missions in various parts of the country.
This year alone, Watsons Philippines mobilized nearly 100 employees from its stores and head offices to participate in Operation Smile’s international missions in Dumaguete, Iloilo, and Tacloban. The volunteers cared for hundreds of children and their families by assisting them during the screening, and easing their anxieties before and after the surgeries.
“It was a different kind of experience to hear stories straight from parents and children who struggle with facial deformities. It was a blessing to share their joy of getting access to free surgery,” said Cecile Canlas, senior marketing manager of Watsons Philippines. Canlas was among the close to 40 Watsons employees from Manila, Cebu and Leyte who went to Tacloban City to help out in the medical mission from Nov. 11 to 16. (S)