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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Going the extra mile for a smile

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Watsons has become the go-to store for most of us—from health and wellness products to our favorite Korean beauty skincare and makeup brands.

And that’s what Watsons wants to be, a place where people can find everything they need regarding health, wellness, and beauty essentials. It has always been its mission to smile at customers after they leave a Watsons store.

To intensify its purpose, in 2018, AS Watsons teamed up with Operation Smile to help children with cleft lip and palate conditions bring back smiles to their faces.

“In 2018 I came across Operation Smile. In the company, we have a purpose and that is to put a smile on our customers’ faces today [and] tomorrow,” shared Malina Ngai, CEO of AS Watson (Asia & Europe).

Watsons gathers volunteers who can help in operating children with cleft lip and palate conditions

“After I met Operation Smile, I realized there were kids out there with cleft and lip palate conditions and they don’t have a choice whether they will smile and not smile, and I talked to Hanks Lee and said why don’t we come up with a global program,” she added.

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As AS Watsons began its “Give a Smile” program, Ngai shared that the brand believed that it would be great to have its colleagues and customers to become involved in the initiative for a greater impact.

“From the year 2018, we already have 17,000 of our colleagues participated as volunteers and all the markets we operate including the Philippines, of course,” she continued.

Being dedicated to elevating the health and wellbeing of Filipino children, Watsons continued its mission this year as it conducted free surgeries for children born with cleft conditions.

Malina Ngai extends her hands in ‘Give a Smile’ program for children with cleft lip and palate conditions

“This week is a special volunteer team that we have. So, there are 21 of them from 16 different markets in Asia and Europe. We promote internally to all our colleagues if you really have the passion for sustainability,” stated Ngai.

On the other hand, Watsons Philippines Managing Director Danilo Chiong expressed his gratitude to Operation Smile for allowing them to reach out to children with cleft lip and cleft palate conditions, especially in underserved communities.

“It has been a decade of transforming lives, and we are on track to achieve, or even surpass, our goal of 3,300 surgeries in the Philippines alone by 2030. Beyond the surgeries, it’s heartwarming to see beneficiaries uplift their lives and be given a newfound hope to live a normal life,” Chiong added.

“For the Philippines, what we do is when we have a mission in a certain place, normally, we ask for volunteers in the nearest store in that particular area and based on my experience, a lot of our Watsons Philippines colleagues would normally volunteer and they would happily do that,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Benedetta Spinola, SVP Strategy and Global Development of Operation Smile described their partnership with AS Watsons as the cornerstone of their mission’s success.

“We are proud to be working together with AS Watsons and this global collaboration. Actually, with their one-time commitment and continued support, AS Watsons is not only giving new smiles, AS Watsons is [also] changing the lives of our patients, of their families, and transforming, making an impact on the entire community. So, putting a smile on people’s faces, customers’ faces, those in need’s face, that’s one means our collaboration,” Spinola told the Manila Standard Lifestyle.

“And together, we get stronger, and we promote a more equitable access to surgical comprehensive care and one smile at a time,” she added.

Ngai also shared that since their partnership started with Operation Smile in 2018, Watsons had already sponsored 6,500 surgeries.

Through a 45-minute surgery, Watsons and Operation Smile had already transformed and changed the lives of the children, their families, and their future.

“So every day, every life could affect other lives, This is what the whole project is transforming because once they had the surgery, that 45-minute surgery, they started to gain back the confidence and they want to be able to help others as well, they will be able to pursue their dreams and bring the positivity to also people around them, so this is what I believe as a very powerful impact of this partnership,” said Ngai.

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