Ritu, from Kirtipur, Nepal, was ecstatic when she sensed she was pregnant after eight years of trying with her husband Raj. Before telling her friends and family the good news, Ritu went to her local clinic for an ultrasound so that she could be completely certain that her dream of a child had been realized.
Ritu felt some tension from the ultrasound technician during the scan, and then he told her that he had two pieces of information that could be life-changing: she was having two children, not one, and one twin would be born with a cleft lip.
Several months later, Ritu experienced a mix of supreme happiness and apprehension when her daughters were born. Ritu feared that the child born with a cleft lip, Rehana, wouldn’t have the same opportunities as her sister, Risona — it felt unfair. Ritu remembers, “Those first weeks, we were really worried about Rehana. Thankfully, our whole family supported us and promised that we would find her the cleft surgery she needed.”
Eight months later, Rehana had some troubling results from a blood test, which caused some concern, so Ritu had to go to the more advanced Vayodha Hospital in Kathmandu to learn more. There, she learned that the blood-test results were not overly worrisome and, fortuitously, also learned that the hospital was the home of Smile Train’s local partner, the SEWA Foundation — and an appointment was made for Rehana’s cleft lip surgery.
Ritu remembers the day of the surgery: “I was a little worried, but, afterwards, she looked so good! Everyone in the family was so happy for Rehana.”
Rehana is the more outgoing of the twins, and she always wears a smile. Ritu says that her fears that she would have to live a different life than that of her twin sister are no longer a concern and that they both are doing very well.
Ritu has high hopes for her daughters’ futures: “I hope that they will be doctors or engineers. I will always do my best to support them,” she says.
Ritu is a vocal advocate for Smile Train and often talks to parents who are hesitant to bring their child for cleft surgery. She shares with them, “The temporary pain of surgery will save them from future social stigma and psychological trauma.” Ritu’s most reliable selling point is Rehana’s beaming smile as proof that the SEWA Foundation will do an outstanding job.
If you would like to help us enable forever smiles and second chances at life for children like Rehana and help mothers like Ritu provide equal opportunities for their children, please make a gift today.