Smiles Foundation is a Canadian registered charitable organization whose mission is to provide dental treatments, primary health care and environmental education, computer and language training, as well as food and social enterprise programs to people in need in third world countries. Our primary focus is on children's programs, addressing their mental and physical development; on women facing inequality in their society; and on the elderly living alone while lacking basic care. Smiles Foundation is dedicated to giving the people of the developing world the opportunity for a healthier and more fruitful existence. We value the rights of equal access to education and health without exception of race, sex, age, and economic status. We believe that if children are educated and raised with proper health practices, they will be better equipped to meet the challenges of our changing world and they will develop the self-confidence needed to fulfil the leadership roles of tomorrow. In 2018 we are beginning our work within Canada with primary focus on children from low income families, immigrant families and children with disabilities.
The beginning of the Smiles Foundation dates back to 1984 when Elina Katsman visited Samana as a tourist. Having worked previously as a dental assistant, Elina was shocked by the amount of dental decay and suffering endured by the local children. After pursuing a career in Canada as a dental hygienist, she returned to the area in 1987 as a volunteer in order to carry out an oral hygiene education project for local children. It soon became apparent that in addition to education, the children urgently needed dental treatment; consequently the first Smiles dental clinic opened and the Dominican Smiles Foundation was registered in 1990. In 1999, the Smiles Foundation was incorporated in Canada, and a Toronto-based office was opened.