By John Legaspi
American celebrity hairstylist Ken Pavés discovers his Filipino roots with Bright Faces’ inaugural mission in the Philippines, repairing the smiles of over 40 children in Cabanatuan. A global nonprofit organization dedicated to providing life-saving cleft lip and palate surgery to people in need, Bright Faces has been rebuilding people’s confidence one smile at a time.
One of the its board members, Ken is not new to philanthropic activities as he has also been a spokesperson for Operation Smile for 18 years. The Bright Faces’ first mission in the country paved way for Ken to visit the Philippines for the first time. His mother is Filipino-Portuguese, so this visit couldn’t have been more meaningful.
“My mother was a great woman, I can’t mention her without getting emotional,” he says. “This is for her and my nephew Ryan. This cause is very close to my heart because my nephew was one of these children. He was born with Trisomy and other birth defects, which took his life at 15 months old. He is still my greatest role model and my inspiration.”
Cleft lip and palate is among the most common birth defects in the world, with 170,000 children born with this condition, and one out of 10 of the afflicted die before reaching his or her first birthday. “When left untreated, the children with cleft lip and palate will find it difficult to latch onto their mother’s breast to nurse and may eventually die of hunger and malnutrition,” says Ken.
“The thing about it is that people with the condition are totally shut in,” says Bright Faces CEO James Fox, mentioning the bullying that often comes with it. “What makes me motivated doing this is that we get people out of their houses and give them their lives back and (the chance to) be part of the society.”
To help raise more funds, Ken’s long list of A-list clients and friends offered their support for his mission. Ken and his fellow philanthropists are currently hosting an online auction benefiting Bright Faces’ initiatives. Up for auction are prime items such as memorabilia from Diana Ross, a signed coat from Oprah Winfrey, dresses from designer Victoria Beckham, jersey and cleats from David Beckham, football gears from Tom Brady, and more. Ending on July 10, bidders can get those one-of-a-kind pieces and help for a good cause by visiting www.charitybuzz.com/brightfaces.
Together with RGPI Professional Beauty and Smile Asia Alliance, Bright Faces is committed to providing free surgeries and treatment to those in need—reaching patients in the most remote places with no access to care. Ken and the Bright Faces team will return to the country in November to continue their kind work, repairing smile and lives.
“Bright Faces not only gives children a beautiful smile but also gives them the chance to live a normal life with the opportunity to fulfill their greatest potential.” says Ken.