Dhaka, Bangladesh — Khondoker and his wife Tasmin eagerly expected the birth of their third child, but were shocked when she was born with a cleft lip and palate and was diagnosed with dwarfism.

But they promised to never give up.

Khondoker makes a living for his family selling goods from one shop to another from his motorcycle. When his elderly father could no longer work, Khondoker took his parents into his home with Tasmin and their two sons. Determined to take care of his parents and his children, Khondoker worked harder than ever to earn a little extra and feed his family. When Taslia was born, he pushed himself even more so that one day he could have her cleft repaired.

Then one day tragedy struck.

Smile Train patient Taslia before free cleft surgery

While on a long shift, Khondoker was severely injured in an accident while driving. He broke his femur and had to be hospitalized for a long time. Between hospital costs and the lost income, the little money they had managed to save disappeared as fast their hope for repairing Taslia's cleft.

Desperately seeking help for her daughter, Tasmin took Taslia to as many doctors as she could find — her sons staying home with their grandparents and injured father. Each visit to a doctor drained her spirit ever further as there was no way that they would be able to afford the costs of the surgery.

Frustration and anger at their situation grew. Slowly recovering, Khondoker blamed himself for not being able to provide for his daughter and family.

But they promised to never give up.

Smile Train patient Taslia after free cleft surgery

Their strength and courage were rewarded one day when they saw an advertisement in a small newspaper for Smile Train. Tasmin brought Taslia to see Smile Train partner surgeon Dr. B. K. Das and his team, skeptical, but hoping that somehow they could help. Dr. Das assured her that they could perform Taslia's cleft lip and palate surgery free of charge.

Showing the same strength as her family, Taslia recovered smoothly from her cleft lip operation and months later, when she was ready, had her cleft palate closed. Today, Kondoker is working again and the entire family shares Taslia's new smile, forever thankful to Dr. Das, his team, and the strangers who gave their daughter a fresh start.

Real Stories. Real Heroes.