Smile - and the world smiles with you

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AFTER spending a month in Cambodia, a Rothesay woman has been inspired to start project with the aim of putting smiles back on children’s faces – both in Cambodia and on Bute.

Cheryl Moore was invited out to Cambodia last year to teach art to local children, and while there was astounded by the number of youngsters with cleft palates – a relatively easily correctable condition in Britain, but a highly expensive procedure for improverished Cambodians.

Once back in Scotland, Cheryl was inspired to do something for the young people in Cambodia, but equally, felt it was important to help children in Scotland suffering from depression – a condition which is on the increase among adolescents.

“My head was buzzing while I was there,” she said.

“I mean, these people have nothing, but the children were so happy.

“There’s no welfare system; you have kids picking up rubbish to recycle for money to give to their families And yet, they are so happy; they’re some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

While there, Cheryl was astounded by how art affected the children in a positive way.

“It was amazing how art just transcends the language barrier,” she said.

“On one hand you had big, burly lads who couldn’t understand a word of English except ‘Hello’, but sit them down in front of the materials and they just fell silent, totally engrossed.

“The children were so happy while they were doing it.”

After returning to Scotland, Cheryl recognised that even though children in this country have much more, in a material and economic sense, the rate of depression among young people is very much on the up.

“I was surprised at the rate of depression in young people here,” she said, “and it came to me that maybe there was the opportunity to help both.”

Through a charity called Operation Smile, which supports children with cleft palates and other facial deformities by providing free surgery, Third World children can physically have a smile put back on their face.

That led Cheryl to wonder if, through a project here, young people here with depression could be supported, effectively putting smiles back on their faces.

Cheryl decided to take action, using what she knows – art – to help the children of both countries.

She said: “I understand that money is tight for everyone, and the one thing I want to stress is that we’re not looking for money.

“The main idea is to start up some kind of art project here, that allows everyone, of all abilities, to get together and create their own piece of work, and then to maybe hold an exhibition.

“Any money that was made could then be halved – half going to Operation Smile and half remaining here for the art project.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about Cheryl’s idea, are keen to offer a helping hand in getting things off the ground, or have any other ideas, please get in touch with us at The Buteman on (01700) 502503, or email us at news@buteman.com, and we will pass your contact details on to Cheryl.