Saving Smiles One Bracelet at a Time

One in 700 children are born with a cleft palate, a common birth defect that happens when parts of the lip and mouth do not completely fuse together. If not treated, it can cause serious lifelong problems, such as difficulty breathing, dental issues, and speech impairments. Fortunately, it can be corrected with a surgery…unfortunately, not many families can afford that, especially in third world countries where medical treatment is not easy to come by. That’s where Nandini and Sanjana come in. These two fifteen-year-old girls are co-owners of Side by Side Smiles, a charity dedicated to raising money and awareness so that babies born with cleft palates can get the treatment they need so that they can live full, normal, and happy lives. I’m so thankful I had the chance to interview them and find out more about this important cause.


R: Tell us about Side by Side Smiles. How does it work?

S: Side by Side Smiles is a charity started by us in January of this year. We sell five-dollar charm bracelets that we make by hand to raise money and awareness for children who cannot afford cleft lip palate surgeries. Currently, we make and sell our charm bracelets and accept donations to raise money.


R: What inspired you to create this charity?

S: Nandini was born with a cleft lip, but luckily had access to the care and resources she needed. Nandini was fortunate enough to grow up with a normal childhood. Earlier this year, she realized that not all children with clefts are lucky enough to get the opportunities she did. So Nandini decided she wanted to help make a difference. When she asked her lifelong best friend Sanjana if she wanted to be involved, Sanjana was ecstatic. Together, they decided to start Side by Side Smiles.


R: What do you hope to accomplish In the future? What have you already accomplished?

S: We would like to raise at least $5,000 by the end of this year. As a long term goal, we would love to raise $100,000. So far, we have sold over 600 bracelets and raised over $4,300.


R: How can people donate and/or raise awareness?

S: People can donate by visiting our website, There is a link that will lead you to our Etsy page, where you can purchase a bracelet. However, if bracelets are not your thing, you can donate to our fundraiser, which is also linked on our website. The best way we gain awareness, however, is through word of mouth. If people find out about us, we encourage them to tell their family, friends, and people around them.


R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

S: We are really thankful for the opportunities and experiences we’ve received since starting this charity and we encourage everyone to realize that, big or small, all efforts for positive change matter.

You can make a difference! Be sure to check out their website (and their beautiful bracelets) and go like their Facebook page. Share it with your friends and do your part to raise awareness for their cause. Every bracelet bought and every donation made brings a child one step closer to a surgery that will change their life.