Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Smile Pinki

HBO's Smile Pinki is the kind of movie that leaves you with a smile in your heart. It follows the efforts of a hospital to provide free cleft lip and palate surgery to the poor. One such patient is five year old Pinki, who could have had her radiant smile hidden behind her cleft lip forever. Her life is transformed when Pankaj, a social worker for the hospital, who travels from village to village to find children with cleft lips and palates, meets her father.

The parents worry about what the operation entails and if their children may be safe. A big part of Pankaj's job is to work soothe the anxious parents so they actually bring their children into the hospital. The surgery is beyond a miracle for these families who would have never been able to afford it. The children go from being stigmatized and isolated, to having a real childhood - they return to schools they had dropped out of, work and play like the rest of the kids.

In the developed world and also in the more affluent urban India, treating a child's cleft lip or palate is a routine procedure - these children have not gone through the experience of being afraid to look at their face in the mirror. It is amazing to see what a huge difference such a "small" corrective procedure can make in the lives of those who have woefully little. In an immensely complex world, Pinki's story is one of utter simplicity - it is one where giving a child the gift of a smile is among the best gifts a doctor can possibly give.

Smile Pinki premiers on HBO
Wednesday, June 3 at 7pm (ET/PT).Here is a trailer.

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