Kimora Lee Simmons tells PEOPLE why meeting these families means so much to her
Kimora Lee Simmons is taking the time out to give back.
The mother of five, 48, recently traveled to Lima, Peru in support of Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused organization that empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.
During her time there, the model mom visited the homes of patients recovering from cleft palate or cleft lip procedures. She also scrubbed in on surgeries with Smile Train partner physicians who are changing the lives of those impacted. Kimora even spent time with the mothers of children affected by cleft palate.
"Traveling to Lima to meet with patients, doctors and families was rewarding beyond my imagination. As an ambassador for Smile Train, I've worked to raise money and awareness, but seeing first-hand the impact on people has been a highlight," Kimora tells PEOPLE of the experience.
"These are kids and families whose lives have changed immeasurably. Being a part of their story is an honor and I'm already planning my next trip."
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Speaking with PEOPLE in May at an intimate, invite-only brunch supporting the organization, Kimora opened up about life as a mom to daughters Aoki, 20, and Ming, 23, with ex Russell Simmons, son Kenzo, 13, with ex Djimon Hounsou, son Wolfe, 8, with estranged husband Tim Leissner, and son Gary, 13, whom she adopted in 2020 when he was 10.
"I'm a single mom of five kids and I know how hard it can be and I don't want to start crying, but it's Mother's Day, I know how that feels like to raise your kids and to get up every day and only care about them," Simmons exclusively told PEOPLE.
"And it doesn't matter, if you're rich and famous or you're this thing or this singer, that singer, at the end of the day, you're a mom or you're a cousin, you're an auntie, you're a family member, you're a community person, a caregiver, you're just there trying to make everything come together," she continued.
The model-turned-businesswoman added, "Being a single mom, I think about my kids all the time and that's it. My kids, their friends, my other kids, like, you know, I have a lot. And these are others of my kids. The Smile Train kids are my kids."
"[My kids'] smiles, I feel like that's the work that I do every day to keep that smile on their face. And again, that 'smile' means so much," she shared. "Health, happiness, community, family."
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Read the original article on People.