Spreading Hope One Smile at a Time
BIG NEWS: ‘Smile for Hope’ is pleased to announce we are expanding our work to the United States. Here is a message from our founder, Zeina Abdo on our next step.
“I want to give a voice to those who struggle to be heard, by speaking out and standing up for what’s right”
– Zeina Abdo
When I founded “Smile for Hope” in 2012, I had this drive to leave no one behind, to be the voice of the unheard, to shed light on shadow, compelled and driven by my mission to make a difference in this world… Along the way, I was rewarded with thousands of beautiful encounters, and you know who you are. You’ve trusted me, gone the extra mile with me, believed in my mission. Some of you raised funds, donated, traveled with me to Nepal. Thanks to all of your support, we have grown as a family and I am so deeply touched by your trust and resilience to stand by the “Smile for Hope” family in difficult times. We have had tears of joy, of pain, of hope, of helplessness. But never did we stop.
A special shout out to Carmen Breidy, Sylviane Sanocki Mailly, Anna Feilchenfeldt, Francesca Carovillano, Toufic Abou Nader, Imad Atwi, Rouba Zeidan, Johnny Karam, and of course the one and only Sonam G. Sherpa for unfailingly being here, solid and for opening doors to and bringing to reality what sprung out of my cracked_wide_open heart upon my return from a climb in the Himalayas, in November 2011.
I certainly have not mentioned you all, but you know who you are.
A key element… all of Smile for Hope’s team members have been volunteers over the years. NONE of us receives a salary and 100% of the funds are geared towards the projects.
After many tears, doubts, joys, surprises… I am so proud to announce Smile For Hope’s new chapter… The United States. A dream made possible thanks to again, 2 beautiful souls, Kerry Counts and Chris Heyde!! Onwards and upwards people, we are simply human helping humans, because beyond boundaries, there’s one commonality, LOVE.
“Smile for Hope” is dedicated to addressing the needs of local communities in remote and forgotten parts of Nepal.
Apart from the various disaster relief programmes we conducted during the aftermath of the devastating 2015 earthquake, it has been our mission since the beginnings of “Smile for Hope” Foundation in 2012, to support children from the remote parts of Nepal, who fight illness and disease, mainly cancer, without the right support system to ensure their healing. We are therefore building the “Smile for Hope” health care center – a “Home away from Home” in Kathmandu. This is a place where children can stay with their parents while undergoing their treatment in hospital. A safe, clean and warm environment where their emotional, psychological, nutritional and generally physical needs are met, where they can play with other children who share their experience and where they get the chance to study with qualified teachers.
“Smile for Hope” ran our first pilot project, providing a safe space to tackle a very sensitive and taboo subject of menstruation in December 2019. An ancient practice, Chhaupadi (Nepali: छाउपडी, is a form of menstrual taboo which prohibits Hindu women and girls from participating in normal family activities while menstruating, as they are considered “impure”. Chhaupadi is practiced primarily in the western part of Nepal.
This leads to a cascade of serious issues dropping out of school, forbidden from accessing family kitchen and reunions, infections, shame, and potentially even death. As recently as December 2019 a young woman died in a chhau hut. In January 2020, the Nepalese government started to destroy menstruation huts as well as try and educate the public against their use, but much more must be done.