In Vietnamese, Ngan's name means "star," but she wasn’t able to smile brightly when she was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.
Ngan’s family lives on the equivalent of $500 U.S. dollars per year in the small, isolated village of Quy Nhon province in southern Vietnam. Without help, her family would never have been able to afford the reconstructive surgery that would change Ngan’s life and give her a bright future.
However, in 2002 when Ngan’s parents heard that Operation Smile was conducting a surgical mission in Danang, Vietnam, Ngan and her family traveled more than 200 miles for the chance to heal her smile.
Ngan received life-changing surgery and now, 10 years later, she is a happy, healthy, vibrant girl – with a smile that shows it. As a hardworking student herself, Ngan dreams of becoming a teacher and allowing other children the chance to enjoy reading, writing and learning as much as she has.
Before, Ngan’s facial deformity hindered social engagement and even her involvement in school. Now with the confidence from her new smile, Ngan can reach her full potential. As a teacher, she can change the lives of others by giving the children in her village even more opportunities to gain an education.
Ngan’s parents say that they had given up everything but hope before Operation Smile gave their daughter the chance to see her dreams become a reality.
"Many poor families in our province will abandon their child if a baby is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate," Ngan's father said. He never wants this to happen, knowing how miraculous the transformation is with a free surgery through Operation Smile.
Ngan was saved by the gift of surgery and her father knows that other children will be too if his family can bring greater understanding to their community. Because of their gratitude for the hope they’ve been given, Ngan’s parents believe it is their turn to give back and they now refer other families of children born with facial deformities to Operation Smile in Vietnam. They are determined to ensure that every child has the opportunity for a future, regardless of their appearance.
Today Ngan laughs with friends and smiles brightly. She, her family, and her community have changed forever.