18-year-old Marie from Cameroon was confused and upset when members of her family took her newborn infant, Loveline, home without giving her the opportunity to hold her for the first time. Marie asked a nurse where her family had gone, and she only offered, “You teenage girls never learn.”
Marie came home to find her family putting away items for a planned baby shower. When Marie demanded to see her child, she finally learned what all the secrecy had been about — her daughter had been born with a cleft lip and palate.
Marie incorrectly believed, as did her family, that Loveline’s clefts were a punishment for Marie’s sins — she only felt guilt and sorrow every time she looked at Loveline. To atone for her perceived ill-deeds, Marie went to every hospital in the area to get estimated costs for Loveline’s cleft surgery. The equivalent of $3,200 was far more than she could afford as a high school student.
Marie went back to school in the evenings, with the hope of finishing her degree and getting a job that could someday pay for Loveline’s cleft surgery. A classmate of Marie heard about Loveline’s untreated clefts and suggested she seek out Smile Train partner WeCCARE Foundation.
Marie took Loveline to WeCCARE Foundation; she was amazed to see so many other children living with untreated clefts. “It was the best day of my life — I learned that clefts are common and Loveline’s clefts were not caused by something I’d done. After Loveline was accepted to receive free cleft surgery, all of my sadness and guilt was gone,” Marie recalled.
Loveline received her 100%-free Smile Train sponsored cleft lip and palate surgeries. After her surgeries, she was enrolled in speech therapy as part of Smile Train’s comprehensive cleft care program.
Today, Marie reports that Loveline is a happy and bright girl with many friends in their neighborhood. Marie has applied to join the military to ensure a stable income and to support Loveline’s dream of becoming a cleft surgeon.
Marie commented, “Please tell Smile Train donors that I’m thankful for the opportunity they’ve given us. It can be painful to have a child born with a cleft, but a cleft surgery returns the smile on a mother’s face. Thank you for my beautiful daughter.”
If you would like to help us provide forever smiles and second chances at life to a child just like Loveline, please make a gift today.