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How Kristen Taekman Is Helping Children With Cleft Lips

The 'RHONY' star heads to Mexico to help kids get their smiles back.

Kristen Taekman has made a career out of smiling and posing for the camera—and now the model is giving back to those who are less fortunate.

The Real Housewives of New York City star has teamed up with Smile Train as a celebrity spokesperson to help children affected with cleft lips and palates as they undergo surgery. She visited Mexico this weekend to visit with kids who have recovered from recent operations and to share words of encouragement with those who have yet to receive the procedure.

"Smile Train is a wonderful organization that recnogizes the necessity of a smile," Kristen said recently. "Your smile, my smile, most importantly, our children's smile—it is the most powerful way to express emotion, and always there to make people feel happy, warm, and safe."

Kristen shared several adorable photos on her Instagram. "Today I got to visit families in their homes," she wrote in one photo caption. "This little boy had his initial procedure yesterday to help repair his cleft. The 1st step of many in his journey to a smile of a lifetime!"

Kristen also shared details of her emotional visit with a young boy named Jose. "His parents were rocking him before his surgery in this cozy blanket," she wrote. "What a beautiful little boy! He had the most [gorgeous] smile even before his life changing cleft surgery. What I experienced today moved me beyond words. I am very proud to be here and to help in any way I can."

Smile Train is an international children's charity that aids in helping developing countries with children who suffer from unprepared clefts. To date, they have helped more than 1 million children around the world.

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