A brief message from someone I'd like you to sponsor


There's been a lot of ruckus about The Little Film That Could, a.k.a. Slumdog Millionaire, sweeping the Oscars on Monday.

I haven't seen it yet, but then, I haven't seen the movie I'm about to tell all of you about, the one that won just one Acadamy Award, for Best Documentary Short Subject (if they're still even calling it that).

The film is a 39-minute short called Smile Pinki; it was directed by one Megan Mylan. Through the story of one very plucky little girl from a very poor part of India, it documents the amazing work being done because of an amazing charitable organization founded by an amazing ACTUAL FRIEND OF MINE, Brian "Hi, I'm a Saint Who Just Happens to Look Like A Kennedy" Mullaney.

The charity is called Smile Train, and the work they've done, and the way they've done it, is nothing short of breathtaking. Brian talks about the concept in this short video accessible via his bio page, but the topline is this: when they ran the numbers and realized how many more children with cleft problems they could save from a lifetime of agony by training local doctors to do the surgery rather than sending U.S. doctors over to do it, they created a charity whose sole purpose was to do just that. This year, they will hit the 500,000 mark: half a million $250 surgeries, one at a time. There is zero cost to the children's families, and no child is turned away, except for medical reasons (there a few, very rare types of cleft problems that can't be fixed with this particular surgery.)

I've written about The Smile Train before, some four years ago, both here and on LA metblogs. It's time to write again, and a whole lot more. The global financial crisis is killing donations, and Smile Train is no exception. Yes, I know there aren't a whole lot of unworthy charities. But this one is run so well and provides such excellent results, it's more than a vote for these children to donate: it's a vote for all charities to ramp it up a bit.

Besides, they've won an Oscar!

I signed up for the monthly donation program. The bottom end of it, but still. You can sign up to donate, here.

You can watch the trailer (it's great!) and send it on to a friend, here. You can sign up to host your own Smile Pinki screening and fundraiser, here. Or just sign up to be notified when Smile Pinki will be screened near you, or the DVD is available, here.

And of course, all you savvy social media types can blog or Twitter or Facebook it (yes, they have a page; they're smart like that.)

The beauty part of this whole plan is that if Brian & co. can keep this up, they'll actually be able to put themselves out of business within five years. Just five years to get clefts down to the kind of manageable, ho-hum levels they're at here in the U.S., so they can be dealt with like they are here in the U.S.

I don't know about you, but that's my kinda business plan.

Your other ideas for spreading the word are welcome, either via the comments or privately, by email (communicatrix over by the GMAIL with a dotterooski and a COM). They're especially interested in ways they can spread the word in Africa, which has been a difficult continent for them to crack. So any of you with pull at international organizations, or some other kind of in, please do drop a line.

And now, we return you to your previously scheduled program...


Image via shannonpatrick via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.