Smile Pinki

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Pinki brings a smile to the Oscars

While all eyes seem to be on "Slumdog Millionaire" for the Oscars, one very courageous little girl will be focused on another India-based film at the ceremony.

It's called "Smile Pinki," and it's up for an Oscar, too -- nominated for best short documentary, which it won on Sunday.

The little girl watching it from inside the Oscar ceremony has traveled all the way to Los Angeles, California, from her small Indian village with her dad -- and it has been an incredible journey for Pinki Sonkar.

"Smile Pinki" tells the story of her transformation from a sad outcast to a vibrant 8-year-old with plenty of spunk.

Pinki was born with a cleft lip, and her impoverished family did not have the money for corrective surgery.

Like millions of other children born with the lip deformity in developing countries, Pinki simply had to live with it and suffer the social consequences.

Her father Rajendra Sonkar says: "She used to go to school and the kids would not befriend her. She would say, 'I don't want to go to school.'" Watch how Pinki was transformed by the operation »

"Pinki was a depressed, sad, lonely, shy, young little girl, growing up on the periphery of the society in a little village," said Satish Kalra, director of Smile Train's South Asian region, after meeting with Pinki.

The little girl's own family was ashamed of her, Kalra says.

But all of that has changed. Pinki is now a real pistol, full of energy and confidence, and she has a fantastic smile too -- thanks to the Smile Train charity.

Smile Train teaches doctors in their own countries to operate on cleft lips, a deformity afflicting up to four million children across the world. iReport: Share your Oscar predictions

Pinki just happened to be one of the chosen candidates for surgery and was also chosen to be the subject of the documentary.

The film chronicles her transformation, following her from her village to the hospital and home again.

"She has absolutely and totally changed," said Pinki's surgeon, Dr. Subodh Kumar.

The film's director is Megan Mylan. She has won several awards but not an Oscar -- until now.

For Pinki and her dad, being able to see the film's director win an Oscar would be a thrill.

But they know they already have the greatest prize: Pinki's new smile.

"I am so happy that my daughter's lips have been repaired," her dad Rajendra said with a smile, expressing hope that the movie will inspire people to help children whose families can't afford the surgery.

Pinki brings a smile to the Oscars - CNN.com
 

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Kids From Smile Pinki Faring Way Better Than Ones From Slumdog

6/3/09 at 3:30 PM Comment

Over the last few weeks, we’ve read with horror all the reports of what has befallen some of the young stars of Slumdog Millionaire in the wake of the film’s Oscar wins. (Though things are, thankfully, starting to look up.) So we thought we should bring you news of something good that has happened to the Indian children at the center of a heartwarming and inspirational Oscar winner. That film, however, is not Slumdog but Smile Pinki, the winner of the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar, which premieres on HBO tonight.

Director Megan Mylan’s film looks at the efforts of a social worker who travels to poor villages in India finding children with cleft lips and arranging for them to receive surgery. (Many don’t realize that cleft lips can be fixed with a simple operation.) Smile Pinki focuses specifically on two children: 5-year-old Pinki and 11-year-old Ghutaru. The film follows their journeys and ends with them cured not only of their clefts, but of the painful social ostracism that resulted from their conditions, which could prevent them from even going to school.

Mylan happily reports that the kids are now doing great. As a result of the film’s success, Pinki and Ghutaru met lots of Bollywood stars and politicians, and even got a parade of marigolds upon their return home. She adds that Pinki’s village was made a model village by her district. "They put corrugated metal roof houses in, to withstand the monsoon rains. They got an electrified water pump, so they can get fresh water.” And within six months, Pinki and Gujaru got scholarships to go to better schools.

Smile Pinki is a devastating and accomplished film in its own right, but Slumdog’s coattails certainly helped: "There was tremendous excitement about the film in India because of Slumdog Millionaire," Mylan says. "Because there were two films about India that were contending at the Oscars this year, so whenever TV and print pieces talked about Slumdog, they talked about our film as well."

Kids From Smile Pinki Faring Way Better Than Ones From Slumdog -- Vulture -- Entertainment & Culture Blog -- New York Magazine
 

Pintu

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Great Article DD, Nice Find and it is really great that they get what was long overdue and necessarily hope that this documentary unnecessarily over states the poverty like the movies like 'Slumdog Millionaire' or 'City of Joy'.

Regards
 

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Operation Smile Partners with India to Make Assam Cleft-free by 2012

JUNE 04, 2009
Guwahati, India
Dispur, the capital of Assam, has joined hands with Operation Smile to make Assam a cleft-free state by 2012, according to chief minister Tarun Gogoi.

Following Megan Mylan’s Oscar-winning documentary "Smile Pinki," telling the story of five-year-old Pinki, an Indian girl with a cleft lip, Operation Smile recently provided life-changing surgery for 226 children in Guwahati, India.

The NGO, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, is offering free plastic surgery for children overseas with facial deformities.

Smile Pinki

After laying the foundation stone of Operation Smile Comprehensive Cleft Care Centre at Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital here this morning, Gogoi said the department of health and family welfare had entered into a public-private partnership with the NGO to provide comprehensive care to children with cleft deformities.

The centre, the first of its kind in the Northeast, was a step towards building infrastructure that would provide sustained care and support to children born with cleft deformities and creating a cleft-free Assam, Gogoi said.

It was the result of the public-private partnership, the chief minister said adding another such centre would be set up at the Assam Medical College and Hospital complex in Dibrugarh.

Health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the state government had aimed to create a “world record of sorts” by conducting reconstructive surgeries on a thousand patients suffering from cleft deformities at one go under a single roof in February.

“Every child deserves to live with dignity and this shared belief has brought together the government of Assam and Operation Smile to forge a relationship to guarantee smiles on the face of every child born with cleft deformity,” Sarma said.

Founders of Operation Smile Inc., William P. Magee Jr. and Kathleen S. Magee along with the chairman of Operation Smile India, Ranjit Barthakur, among other dignitaries, were present at the function.

Sarma said the first Free Surgical Mission For People with Cleft Lip and Palate had brought smiles back on the faces of 158 children and their parents in Assam.

On the nine-day second phase of the programme called Free International Mission for People with Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate that began on May 21, Sarma said: “It is a reinforcement of that same belief that every child has the right to a life of dignity.

Once again the government of Assam backed by the National Rural Health Mission has come together with Operation Smile with promises of more smiles.”

According to Sarma, 30,000 patients are awaiting cleft surgeries in the state and nearly 800 children are born every year with cleft deformities.

Since Operation Smile's first mission to India in 2002, volunteers have provided free physical examinations for more than 4,880 patients and life-changing surgery for more than 2,306 children and young adults during international medical missions in India.

Operation Smile conducts international missions in Bolpur, Deesa, Dharamsala, Guwahati, Himachal Pradesh, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Manipal, Rajkot and Vijayawada; and local missions in Kolkata and Deesa.

Changing Lives One Smile at a Time Through Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Surgery - Operation Smile

Happy News - Operation Smile Partners with India to Make Assam Cleft-free by 2012
 

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