This is a beautiful story of an amazing organization called Operation Smile. They provide free surgeries to correct cleft palates for needy children born with this deformity to improve their quality of life. What a wonderful story, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Here is an extremely moving short film showing mother’s reuniting with their children in the recovery room:
And here is Kiran’s story:
Kiran was nearly abandoned at birth because of her cleft palate. In India cleft palates are seen as bad luck or as a curse brought on a child because of some misdeed of the parents, so when the midwife saw that Kiran was born with a cleft palate, she tried to secretly leave the baby to die in an alleyway while Kiran’s mother was still recovering. Fortunately, Kiran’s grandfather heard her cries and came to her rescue. After years of health complications and ridicule, Kiran was finally able to have her cleft lip and palate repaired by Operation Smile.
Both videos were filmed in Operation Smile’s state-of-the-art Comprehensive Care Center in Guwahati, India. It’s one of 14 centers in India and 37 total around the world, but it’s one of the centers they’re most proud of.
Some quick stats from Operation Smile’s website and communications department:
- every three minutes a child is born with a cleft
- a child born with a cleft has twice the odds of dying before their first birthday (cited in the Recovery Room video)
- Cleft conditions are not simply a cosmetic issue; they also cause affected children to have difficulty eating, speaking, hearing, and breathing. Children with clefts are often malnourished.
- In many places (including India) cleft lips/palates are believed to be punishment for the sin of the parents or a misdeed done by the child in a previous life
- Beyond cosmetic benefits, cleft repairs provide psychological, emotional and medical benefits. Repairs often lead to improved ability to nurse, eat or drink from a bottle while also helping to facilitate optimal speech. The children are also able to be socialized and integrated back into society instead of shamed and rejected.
- Operation Smile has provided 220,000 free surgeries since 1982 (cited in the Recovery Room video)
- Operation Smile also seeks to improve global care standards by training local medical professionals and volunteers. In 2013 67% of surgeries were performed by local, in-country volunteers
- Each year more than 5,400 medical volunteers from over 80 countries volunteer with the organization (cited in the Recovery Room video)