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Women Who #ChooseToChallenge

Mamta Carroll smiling and waving

Smile Train is proud to be associated with many women SmileMakers who not only break gender barriers every day, but also lead our programs to provide exceptional safe and high-quality cleft care with compassion and empathy.

This International Women’s Day, our female SmileMakers — including team members, partner medical practitioners and former cleft patients raised their hand to #ChooseToChallenge not only the gender inequality faced by women, but the stigma associated with cleft lip and palate. Here’s what they had to say:

“I am Mamta Carroll and I #ChooseToChallenge every day, by delivering my best — as an individual, as a professional, as a woman. I strive to create an atmosphere and a system of inclusion, diversity, equity and empowerment for everyone regardless of gender. As a woman, I believe in and draw upon my innate compassion, my ability to nurture and nourish and my desire to co-create a better world.”

- Mamta Carroll, Vice President and Regional Director - Asia, Smile Train.

Dr Ankita Midha smiling
“In a world full of male surgeons skeptical of my skills, I chose to rise as a determined and dynamic surgeon to give the brightest of smiles and joy to all my cleft patients and their mothers! I am Dr Ankita Midha and I #ChooseToChallenge the stigma around cleft lip and palate.

Dr Ankita Midha, Partner Surgeon, Cleft Program at Shanku’s Hospital, Mehsana, Gujarat.

Payal Ahuja smiling
“Although it's a proven fact that clefts can be caused due to reasons that are not controlled by anyone, there are instances where a father abandons the child and the mother because of this birth difference. I choose to challenge such beliefs by being a part of the Smile Train programme. I am Payal Ahuja and I #ChooseToChallenge the stigma around cleft lip and palate.”

- Payal Ahuja, Partner Speech Language Pathologist, Cleft Program at Vivekananda Polyclinic, Lucknow.

Dr Vibha Naik smiling
“Avoid the blunder, ignore the gender...each face is beautiful when you restore the splendour. I am Dr Vibhavari Naik and I #ChooseToChallenge the stigma around cleft lip and palate.”

- Dr Vibhavari Naik, Partner Anaesthelologist, Cleft Program at Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana.

Dr Kangjam Lakshmi smiling
“As a former cleft patient as well as a female doctor, I have overcome a lot of stigma in society. However, I acknowledge all the challenges as blessings, because they made me who I am today. I am Dr Kangjam Lakshmi and I #ChooseToChallenge the stigma around cleft lip and palate.”

- Dr Kangjam Lakshmi, Former Cleft Patient and Doctor, Cleft Program at Shija Hospitals, Imphal, Manipur

Dr V. H. Savitha smiling on International Womens' Day
“I am proud to be a woman and a speech language pathologist providing cleft care for individuals across India. I am equal to and can fulfil the professional roles as efficiently as any male colleague in my team. I am V. H. Savitha and I #ChooseToChallenge the stigma around cleft lip and palate.”

- Dr V. H. Savitha, Speech and Language Expert, India Medical Advisory Council and Smile Train Research and Innovation Advisory Council Member

Sheila Koyanna smiling
“When I joined Smile Train, I became part of an incredible group of amazing women for whom no task is too tough and no hurdle too high - we work together to change India, one smile at a time!”

- Sheila Koyanna, Program Manager, Smile Train India

Smile Train can provide life-changing cleft support only because of the kind contributions of people like you.

Our impact in India

as of May 2023


cleft surgeries sponsored since 2001


active partner surgeons


active partner hospitals