Cleft lip and cleft palate deformities are treatable. With proper treatment, which involves cleft rectification surgery and proper nutrition under medical guidance, cleft deformities can transform into perfect ‘smiles’. However, due to lack of awareness about cleft, the inadequate financial condition of the affected person and moreover the social stigma associated with cleft, even today, the struggle of a cleft person remains unheard. Particularly, the plight of children who are affected by cleft lip and palate deformities are even pathetic. Cleft babies cannot feed properly. They require a special feeding bottle, moreover, most of the children are from an economically weaker section of the society which makes them vulnerable to malnutrition and hence their suffering increases to no end.
In our recently completed Siliguri Surgery Camp, during screening, our team came across a 1-year-old girl child – Taiba Khatoon. She had cleft lip deformity from birth. Born to a farmer family with a meagre monthly income of Rupees Five Thousand, her parents (both uneducated) were clueless as to what they should do to heal their baby! The mother of the child confessed that they were totally unaware about cleft and when their child was born with cleft they were panicked and scared. Their family members were particularly unhappy as they feared social seclusion and a bleak future ahead for the girl child.
The mother also explained her hardships with feeding and tending to the little one. Since Taiba could not feed properly, owing to her cleft lip, her nutrition level was much less than normal children of her age. This made her prone to frequent illnesses.
Informed by their neighbours that cleft could be corrected through surgery, little Taiba’s parents also learnt about Mission Smile’s Free Surgery Camp in Siliguri from leaflets distributed in their neighbourhood. When they arrived at the camp venue on the designated date, they were surprised to see a lot of other children with cleft along with their guardians who have come to avail the free cleft surgery, just like them. They felt bad for them too, but in some way, the fact comforted them in believing that “they’re not alone” and increased their trust and faith in the surgery/ treatment procedure that their little child was about to go through.
Little Taiba was screened by Mission Smile’s medical team and she received her surgery at our camp venue –Kejriwal Stone Clinic & Kidney Care Centre in Siliguri on 21st July 2017.
After her successful surgery, Taiba’s parents were advised to bring her for the post-op visit, which they did on time! Now Taiba’s parents are very happy with their little one’s transformation. Her family members too welcomed Taiba on seeing her recovery. On asking, what does she wants her daughter to become when she grows up, Taiba’s mother replied that she wants her child to grow up as a good and honest person. Her reply touched our heart!
All the best little one! From Mission Smile we wish her a happy and healthy future.
At Mission Smile we’re working towards bringing more and more smiles to children affected with cleft lip and cleft palate deformities. We require YOUR HELP to support us. DONATE to Mission Smile.