Damaris is Not an Outcast

After 17 years of exclusion, her new smile helped her community see the truth about clefts

When Damaris was born with a cleft, some local women informed her mother, Mary, that she had given birth to an outcast. At first, it seemed they might be right.

Though her parents loved and supported her from her first breaths, other children excluded Damaris so much that she grew accustomed to watching everyone else have fun without her. The few times someone did invite her to play, she lied and said she didn't want to, then retreated back to the sidelines.

Then, when Damaris was one month shy of turning 17, her mother heard over the radio that an organization called Smile Train was sponsoring free cleft surgeries from local doctors at their nearest hospital. Mary thought she must have heard it wrong, but couldn't risk not taking a chance.

By the end of that week, Damaris' life — and her community — would never be the same. That's the power of a smile.

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