Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Atiku, a five-year-old girl from Ethiopia has lived with her cleft, and the suffering it caused, all of her short life. Her mother abandoned the family because of her cleft. Born 600km from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia’s most populous city and capital), Atiku and her father traveled for two days to reach Smile Train partner hospital, Addis Hiwot Hospital. Her father, who has five other children, could not hide his joy as he held her after surgery. After her free cleft surgery, Atiku was changed for life and her father knew it, saying, “Atiku will one day be a teacher to change the community.”
His laugh was hearty as he recited how it has been difficult for him living with Atiku because of her cleft lip. It had been “hell on earth” he said, but now his wife might return after Atikus’ operation.