Dr. Esther Nyambura Njoroge, Smile Train’s Regional Director for Africa, wrote the following after a recent visit to CURE Kenya with Idah Nguma, Miss World Kenya 2014.
Recently I had the pleasure of spending the day with cleft lip and palate patients at CURE Kenya. These children and their parents had travelled from all over the country following an aggressive mobilization drive by the hospital. CURE International has been a partner with international children’s cleft charity, Smile Train, since 2006. With Smile Train’s support, CURE International has provided free surgeries to more than 8,000 children worldwide. CURE Kenya was the first hospital established by CURE International, and here, 1,554 cleft lip and palate patients have benefited. This year alone they target to reach over 200 children.
Talking to these parents and hearing their stories is humbling—stories of desertion, isolation, discrimination, and sheer struggle. One grandmother told me she was taking care of her granddaughter because the mother left the day the baby was born, never wanting to be associated with “that thing.” The gratitude from the parents for the free service is heartwarming. The direction of their lives had been changed in a span of hours.
One particular girl caught my attention. She was not on a patient bed, rather, she was wearing a staff uniform. Only an experienced eye could tell she once had a cleft lip; what is left now is a thin scar. Milka is a beneficiary of free cleft lip and palate surgery at CURE Kenya, and after her schooling, she has come back to volunteer at the hospital. This is her way of giving back. She is such a sweet girl and a true testimony of a life transformed.