Matilda Sings for Smiles

3 December 2018 | Smile Train

Matilda Bitterling is a 12-year-old girl from Körle, Germany who loves to sing.

Matilda with Smile Train donation box

While on vacation last year, Matilda saw a Smile Train advertisement that shared some of the difficulties that children with untreated clefts can experience in the developing world. Matilda thought it was unfair that other children were unable to properly breathe, eat, speak, or even attend school simply because their parents were unable afford a surgery. When the ad had finished, Matilda knew that she wanted to help. “My goal was to raise €200 to help at least one child smile. I didn’t know how I’d raise the money, but I knew I could do it,” she said.

Matilda’s initial fundraising idea was to put out a table in a busy part of her hometown that people could stop at to learn more about Smile Train and possibly even to donate. However, she felt that the table alone might not be enough to grab people’s attention and make them pause in their busy lives. Her solution was to use her talent for singing to draw a crowd. “I always stop to listen to street music, so I guessed that it was the best way to get people’s attention and raise money,” Matilda said.

Matilda sings for donations

The time had come for her first event, so Matilda set up her table, grabbed the microphone, and started singing. To her relief, the idea worked, “Many strangers came up to me to tell me I was very brave, performing by myself at 12 years old. Then I told them about Smile Train.”

The first fundraising event went so well that Matilda took her act on the road and used her voice to raise awareness and smiles in three German cities.

Matilda counting her donations

After five events, Matilda has more than doubled her fundraising goal. The fact that she’s already helped three children smile only motivates her to go out and sing more. “My goal is climbing higher; I want to bring smiles to more children,” she said.

Smile Train’s Director of Development in Germany, Kerstin Diegel, said of Matilda, “We can’t thank her enough for all the bravery it took to go out and sing in front of strangers. She’s a wonderful philanthropist and caring person who will achieve great things. Thank you, Matilda, for making those children so happy.”


Smile Train is so proud of Matilda for using her powerful voice to change the world. If you would like to join Matilda in helping us to provide more children around the world with forever smiles and second chances in life, please make a gift today.