The wife of the Governor of Anambra State, and founder of Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme), has become Smile Train Goodwill Ambassador with the presentation of the Award by a delegation from the world’s largest cleft organization, Smile Train Incorporated on January 22, 2018 in, Awka, Anambra State.
Speaking at the award presentation, Programme Director of Smile Train West & Central Africa, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi, said that that Osodieme was recognized for her immense contributions and service through CAFÉ to cleft care, by helping in the provision of corrective surgeries a congenital birth defect in Anambra State.
Said She: “Cleft lip or cleft palate is a congenital birth disorder common in our society but Smile makers like our Mama, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano helps facilitate free lifesaving surgeries, which cost about $250 USD and can be performed within 45 minutes. We are here to appreciate her work and partnership through her NGO CAFÉ, which ensures that the patients get the benefit of free Smile Train surgery which has seen the treatment of over 150 in Anambra State and over one million across Nigeria thereby putting smiles on the faces of the patients and families.”
The Programme Director stated that the disorder causes trauma and stigmatization to the patients if not treated, stressing that the award is to commend and motivate Osodieme to continue to project hope and sensitize people with such deformity, and as well to strengthen the relationship between Smile Train and the Governor’s Wife’s Pet Project, CAFE.
Receiving the award on behalf of Osodieme who was absent, her representative, Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike, expressed delight for the honour by Smile Train and assured the group that it would spur her to render more selfless services and strengthen commitment to humanitarian causes.
The Commissioner informed the Smile Train delegation that the award is a confirmation of what is already known about the good work of Osodieme through CAFÉ which goes beyond helping cleft lip patients to other health interventions like promotion of maternal and child health, treatment of the mentally challenged, free prosthetic limbs to over 1300 persons and donation of wheel chairs, promotion of hygiene by building modern toilets in rural markets as well as the building of free housing for indigent widows.
Akabike opined that Osodieme’s commitment to charity was appreciated by Ndi Anambra in the massive support and the electoral victory of her husband, Governor Willie Obiano who is widely accepted for exemplary leadership style and numerous achievements especially in the health sector. He called on the delegation to “feel free because Anambra state is the safest in the country and investments destination safe stay in and travel by everyone including international visitors.”
Earlier in his remarks, consultant surgeon at Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital Nnewi and coordinator of the Surgeries, Prof. Dr. Titus Chukwuanukwu, noted that the Goodwill Ambassador Award by Smile Train is one of its highest award, reserved for persons who have impacted lives of others positively by bringing back smiles on the faces of the cleft patients and their families.
He commended Osodieme for effectively using her position as the first lady of the state to put smiles back on faces, especially that of many indigent persons in the society and expressed the hope for continuous partnership between CAFÉ and Smile Train to sustain the free treatment for people with such birth defects.
Also in the Smile Train delegation were Country Director Smile Train Nigeria, Mrs. Victoria Awazie, Smile Train Ambassadors, Miss Universe Nigeria, Miss Stephanie Agbasi and Miss Universe Ghana, Quashie who are visiting Nigeria in furtherance of the partnership between the group and The Miss Universe Organization and to raise awareness for the Cleft Week to raise awareness for those living with untreated clefts throughout Nigeria.
Smile Train has since inception nineteen years ago performed over 1.8m free cleft surgeries globally, over 100,000 in Africa, and over 30,000 patients in West Africa and over 17,000 in Nigeria.