When Maham’s mother looked to the face of her first child for the first time, the overwhelming joy of the moment gave way to fear and anxiety. It was her first time seeing a cleft.
Things only got more difficult from there. Maham’s cleft made her choke on breastmilk, and, unable to take in the nutrition she needed, her parents could only watch as their baby seemed to waste away. Her cleft also left her vulnerable to infections, and she was sick nearly every day of her first months of life. They were mocked by the community when they left the home so the family spent the next five years inside their home, living in isolation.
When Maham started school, her peers harassed her to the point where she would cry and sometimes even faint in class. Her parents couldn’t bear seeing their daughter in such pain, but they felt helpless. They saw no way they would ever be able to afford cleft treatments when they could barely afford to put food on the table; they never even looked so as to not open themselves up to the pain of yet more disappointment.
After ten long years, someone told her parents that an organization called Smile Train would sponsor the cleft treatment she needed completely free at Cleft Hospital Pakistan in nearby Gujrat. The family took every cent they had and left that day. Once at the hospital, the cleft team inspected Maham’s cleft and determined it would take several surgeries for her to live a full, healthy life.
Now, seven years and four Smile Train-sponsored cleft surgeries later, Maham’s life has completely changed. She is at a healthy weight, is succeeding in class, and her smile has made her one of the most popular students at her school.
Maham’s transformation shows the advantage of Smile Train’s model. Because we train local doctors and equip regional hospitals around the world, our partners can form relationships with patients and their families to provide the planned, long-term care they need in a way a mission trip-based model never could. It’s how we’ve transformed the lives of more than 1.5 million children around the world just like Maham in just over 20 years and how, with your support, we will continue to change the world one smile at a time.
Become a source of hope and life to families in need. Become a Smile Train donor now.