Ndinda’s Story: A Smile of Acceptance

August 11, 2016 | Smile Train

Ndinda Kyalo was born in 2007 with a cleft lip in the village of Tala, Kenya. Many of the people living in this remote community believed that her cleft lip was caused by HIV or even by a horrible curse. As a result, the entire Kyalo family was shunned and ignored.

Ndinda Family Photo

When Ndinda was four years old, children in the village taunted her by calling her by the name “Kilema” – a derogatory term for someone with a disability.  Despite the name-calling, Ndinda always had an unbreakable, happy disposition and smile – even when she found out that she would be kept back from school due to her family’s poor social standing.

Ndinda with mother in market

The years of social isolation and bullying finally ended after Ndinda’s parents heard a radio ad about Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery at nearby Makueni District Hospital. At the hospital, they found out that Ndinda was a perfect candidate for free cleft surgery. Two weeks later, she returned home with a new smile.

Ndinda with Smile Train toy

Today, Ndinda is a happy and well-liked student at St. Mary’s Primary School. Ndinda’s teacher Mary says that Ndinda is now full of confidence and the other students are drawn toward her positive personality.  She adds that whenever the children sing songs, Ndinda always has the loudest voice.  

Ndinda with new friends

Thanks to a year of hard work and dedication from her and her teachers, Ndinda has caught up to the other students in her grade academically.

Ndinda in school

Ndinda’s indomitable spirit has won over her entire community. Now, any child born with a cleft in Tala will surely be met with acceptance and love thanks to the efforts of one brave girl.

Ndinda with Smile Train sign