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Gloomy Faces Now Overtaken By Contagious Smiles

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By Sunday Elom

A teenage Somalian, Muscab who was born with cleft of the lip often felt isolated and had no hope he would ever be really happy, smile like his fellows let alone receiving cleft treatment. 

But a light of joy shone on him and everything changed when his brother discovered the Smile Train and took him to a local Smile Train partner hospital in Mogadishu where he received free treatment. 

Good news is that Muscab is now healthy, happy, and thriving with a broad smile on his face. 

Similarly, young Brenda was born with a cleft of the lips and her mother, Simone, said their entire family’s lives changed when they found Smile Train.

She was never certain of what could be the fate of her beautiful daughter but after the free surgery sponsored by Smile Trai, Simone said she is confident that her daughter’s future will be filled with smiles and incredible opportunities.

While you wonder what the two short testimonies are all about, it is important to let you know that cleft, be it of the lip or of the palate, is a common birth condition that can occur alone or as part of a genetic condition or syndrome in newly born babies.

Most prevailing cleft is the cleft of the lip which is basically the opening or split of either the upper lip, lower lip or both lips. 

However, apart from the fact that both cleft of the lip and cleft of the palate leaves its patients with difficulty in speaking and feeding, cleft of the lip in particular takes away smile, happiness and joy from the patients, as they are most discriminated, cajoled and sometimes bullied across the world.

In some cultures, children born with cleft of the lip are regarded as agents of witchcraft, a curse from ancestral spirits, consequence of parental sins, an abomination due to secret sins of the mother, an evil omen, amongst others.

With different unfortunate rejection, discrimination and stigma that are usually metted against children born with cleft, more obviously, cleft of the lip across the world, parents of children born with cleft always hid them from the general public to avoid public tonguelash, ostricization, excommunication and other stigma.

More painful is the fact that some parents of children born with cleft sometimes also reject them, subject them to perpetual ill-treatment, physical and verbal abuses, denial of basic things of life and in some cases, throw them out their homes, making them wanderers, depressed and left to die.

Sadly, despite its volume across the world and the fact that it is not based on race or skin colour, cleft happens to be one of the less talked about ailments, hence, many people do not know that surgery restores cleft patients to normal function with minimal scarring, and therefore restores lost smile on the gloomy faces no matter the age of the patient.

Understanding the important of smiling face to the general health, self-esteem and livelihood of man, a world’s largest cleft care organization, Smile Train took up the task that could be rightly alluded to Biblical statement that Jesus Christ was going around doing good, by going around the world restoring smiles on the gloomy faces of old and young people born with cleft.

For the last 21 years, Smile Train has supported safe and quality cleft care for over 1.5 million children across the globe. 

In its cleft-focused mission, Smile Train provides training, funding and resources to empower local medical professionals in over 70 countries to provide 100%-free cleft surgery and other forms of essential cleft care in their communities.

Beyond surgery, our local partners also provide speech therapy, psychological support, nutritional services, orthodontics, and other essential forms of care to ensure that children with clefts have everything they need to not just live, but thrive.

Since 1999, Smile Train has empowered over 2,100 medical professionals, supported over 1.5 million cleft surgeries, supported over 30,000 cleft training opportunities with over 1,100 partner hospitals in over 90 countries of the world. 

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