SINGAPORE. The Moodie Davitt Report’s ‘Smile Raising’ Charity Dinner charity dinner to be held on Saturday 6 May at Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore, is attracting encouraging support.

As reported, the Smile Raising Charity Dinner will raise funds and visibility for international cleft charity Smile Train.

Tables have been booked in the past few days by Sunil Tuli (King Power Group Hong Kong CEO), Changi Airport Group, Duty Free Global. Wonderful Pistachios, through Director of Sales, Australia, NZ, SE Asia and Global Travel Retail James Kfouri are also kindly supporting the event. Many industry figures have also booked individual seats.

The dinner will be held on the eve of the TFWA Asia Pacific show. Gold tables of ten are available for US$4,000 and Platinum tables of ten for US$7,500. Individual places can be booked for US$400 each and other special support and partnership packages are available.

For more details see the official Smile Raising Charity Dinner website. To reserve a table or place, please email Vincci Chung at or Jeannie Wong at headed ‘Smile Raising’.

In the run-up to the event we will be sharing some of the Smile Train stories, introducing you to those whose lives have been changed thanks to the charity (see below for Case Study 2). We will also report on location from Smile Train clinics.

The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie said, “Smile Train is an extraordinary organisation that has been close to our heart and that of the travel retail industry for the past decade and a half.

“As a customer-facing industry, travel retail understands the priceless value of a smile. Let’s come together to put a smile on the faces of children all around the world for whom that simple, most beautiful human gesture is so difficult. Please support Smile Train and our endeavours by booking your table or individual seat and/or by providing live or silent auction prizes and supporting us in any other way suitable.”

One of Singapore’s most renowned heritage buildings, Hotel Fort Canning bears a storied past that dates back to the early 20th century. Today, the hotel’s architecture continues to retain much of its colonial glamour, combining it with modern elements of the surrounding parklands.

The Smile Raising Charity Dinner event marks our 21st year in business and our fourth charity dinner to be held in Asia. Previous events in Hong Kong (2007 and 2012) and Singapore (2019) have raised almost US$1 million collectively for the nominated charities.

Smile Train has been among The Moodie Davitt Report’s preferred charities since 2007 when the Hong Kong gala dinner raised over US$300,000 for the cause.

Over the past 15 years, we have helped generate more than US$2.5 million for Smile Train through our own donations (including from The Virtual Travel Retail Expo and The Trinity Forum), charity dinners; the ‘Miles for Smiles’ fun runs in Dubai and around the world; and even a world-record, highest altitude rock gig at the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro called The Chasing Rainbows Tour.

Smile Train has supported over 1.5 million cleft surgeries since 1999. Every five minutes Smile Train-supported cleft treatment helps a child in need.

Some 200,000 babies are born every year with cleft lips and/or palates. US$250 funds the cost of the 45-minute cleft surgery that transforms the life of a child – and that of his or her family.

It is estimated that some 170,000 babies in the developing world are born every year with cleft lips and/or palates.

US$250 funds the cost of the simple 45-minute cleft surgery that transforms the life of a child – and that of their families.

Smile Train Case Study 2

Meet Akuya and her parents Rosa and Kossi

Akuya with her loving mother Rosa

When Akuya was born, her parents Rosa and Kossi, faced almost unbearable harassment from their neighbours in rural Toga, West Africa.

“My pregnancy with Akuya was very difficult compared to my other two pregnancies,” Rosa explains. “I suffered a lot and when I saw Akuya I was scared; I did not know if I would be able to take care of her.”

Neither Rosa nor her husband Kossi had any idea what a cleft was. They took their baby to a nearby hospital where they were given an ointment. “We thought that would make it go away. But it didn’t. So, I accepted Akuya the way she was because she is a human being and God gave her to me like this.”

Akuya before her life-changing Smile Train surgery

Rosa had breastfed her other two children but with Akuya she struggled. “I had to express the milk into a cup; if she wanted water, I had to find a way for her to drink it because it kept spilling out of her mouth.”

Akuya was often ill and further hospital visits followed. According to Rosa, the nursing staff explained that the cleft is a birth defect that could be healed. Their only advice, however, was to remain strong and to take care of her daughter.

“That was not easy. I could not fetch water at the stream, I could not go to the market for groceries without people staring and saying horrible things about my baby and her cleft. We decided to isolate ourselves from people because hearing those hurtful things used to affect me a lot.”

Post a successful cleft operation the smiles say it all: Akuya with her father Kossi

Kossi was supportive and loved his young daughter; but life was difficult. “Usually, when a child is born in our community, people come to see the baby and give blessings; their comments are nice. But for Akuya, nobody wanted to hold her; nobody wanted to get close to her,” he says.

“Some people even advised us to throw her away, saying she was a bad omen, a witch.”

The ugly taunts and name-callings forced Rosa and Kossi to leave their home and livelihood. They sold all they owned at a loss and started from scratch in another area of the country.

Akuya with her parents and other family members near their home in Toga

That difficult move, however, had a silver lining when they were contacted by a local social worker, Benoit Detou.

As part of the Smile Train network, Detou is one of many social workers who have, over the years, built relationships of trust with local governments, tribal chiefs and religious leaders. They speak the locals’ language and share their culture; they also know how Smile Train works and what the charity’s associated hospitals can offer.

Detou assured Rosa and Kossi that Akuya’s cleft could be completely healed, free of charge. Sceptical at first, they resisted Detou’s attempts to help until the social worker’s pleas were supported by locals. A hospital appointment was arranged.

“It was a completely new environment for us. We felt awkward at first, but the doctors and the team supported, reassured, and guided us during every step of the build-up to the procedure. They even provided us with food and everything that we needed. It was an outstanding experience; we are grateful to them.”

Akuya is all smiles as she looks forward to a very different future following her cleft surgery

After surgery Akuya was a different child. “I don’t have words to express how happy I was at that moment; I was overwhelmed with joy to see the change,” Rosa says.

“Our neighbours had not believed that her cleft could be healed, and when we came back from the hospital, they were so happy. People came with gifts to thank us for having the courage to decide to do the surgery and to celebrate Akuya’s good health.”

Kossi’s wish for his daughter is for her to go to school “for as long as she likes” and to be successful in life. “I will do everything to support her in this journey,” he says.

Rosa is determined to share her child’s story, to ensure any other parents with children with clefts have the right information and “know that there are people who are ready to help”.

“If possible, I would even introduce them to Benoit so that he can take them to their nearest Smile Train partner and experience the joy of seeing their child healthy,” she adds.