Asher Finds His Home — and His Smile

At every step of his journey, baby Asher met people ready to help

Asher smiling and holding a Smile Train sign

Even before birth, Asher faced an uncertain future.

His mother was brought to a women’s shelter on the outskirts of Kathmandu when she was seven months pregnant because she was not healthy enough to raise Asher on her own.

Priscilla, a staff member familiar with Asher’s mother, offered to raise Asher as her own. The 24-year-old had no prior experience looking after babies, but she got straight to work preparing a home for him at the shelter.

However, the day Asher arrived, neither Priscilla nor any of her colleagues were prepared for what they saw: he had a cleft.

No one at the shelter had ever encountered a baby with a cleft lip or palate before. In the days and weeks that followed, everyone chipped in to help Asher as best they could, but even simple tasks like feeding him proved a challenge. When Asher did manage to eat, he would often vomit it back up. He also had difficulty sleeping.

“We were afraid,” Priscilla recalls, “and had no idea how to take care of him.”

Priscilla holds up Asher, along with a picture of him before cleft palate surgery
Priscilla, Asher, and a pre-surgery snapshot

One of Priscilla’s colleagues began researching cleft care and discovered B and B, a local hospital offering treatment. Hoping for some answers, Priscilla gathered Asher and set out for an in-person consultation.

As soon as she arrived, Priscilla found Dr. Mahendra Maharjan and the support she so needed. He and his team laid out a treatment plan. They showed Priscilla new ways to feed Asher, and they set a weight target for him.

They also mentioned surgery, which made Priscilla nervous. Asher would need three procedures to heal his lip and palate. Priscilla worried if she could even afford one.

Dr. Mahendra quickly put her at ease.

It’s okay, he assured her. All of the cleft treatment Asher ever needed would be 100% free because B and B is a Smile Train partner.

Asher playing with a couple of flowers
Asher, busy playing with flowers

With newfound hope and a team of local cleft professionals specially trained by Smile Train on their side, Priscilla and Asher returned to the shelter. The new feeding methods worked. Bit by bit, Asher gained the weight necessary for his procedures.

The other staff at the shelter continued to lend a helping hand. When it came time for Asher’s first surgery, Priscilla could not be there due to work — right away, one of her colleagues stepped in and accompanied him to the hospital.

After the surgery, Asher returned to the shelter and Priscilla watched over him, anxiously monitoring his recovery. To her great relief, within a few days it was clear the surgery was a complete success.

“We noticed a lot of changes after the procedure,” she says. “It was very easy to take care of him. It was easier to feed him, and he gained more appetite.”

Asher continued to respond so well to his treatment that after the second surgery, Dr. Mahendra announced there was no need for a third.

A smiling Asher runs around in the shelter at the garden
Baby Asher has become a beloved member of the shelter community

Today, Asher is a smiling, playful two-year-old boy. He no longer has any issues eating and has more appetite than ever. He’s even starting to say a few words! His presence is a joy to everyone at the shelter.

Asher’s treatment also had a profound impact on Priscilla. Upon first seeing his cleft, she feared for his health. Now, she allows herself to dream of him attending school and living a full life.

And she emphasizes the key role that Smile Train donors played in making Asher’s care possible.

“I’d just like to say that we’re really grateful for the sponsorship,” Priscilla says. “Without it, Asher would not have gotten a life like the one he’s living right now.”

Priscilla holds up Asher, along with a card that says thank you
Priscilla and Asher will forever be thankful for support like yours

Your generosity makes life-changing treatment 100% free for children like Asher all over the world.