Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, with the eighth largest economy. Its largest city, Sao Paulo, is the seventh largest city in the world with 18.8 million inhabitants. Despite Brazil’s relative prosperity, there is still a large population living in extreme poverty, and access to reliable medical care is a luxury that many cannot afford.
We recently heard from Smile Train partner Dr. Daniela Tanikawa, who works at the University of Sao Paolo. A partner since 2008, Dr. Tanikawa is one of Smile Train’s strongest partners in Brazil. Dr. Tanikawa sent us stories from Brazil, of three Smile Train patients who had been stigmatized by their community because of their cleft lip and palate.
Rodrigo and Edilene
“Rodrigo and Edilene are siblings that come from the Indian Community Sateré-Mawé in the Amazon Forest, where the presence of a physical disability means the possession by the devil. Because of this, Rodrigo and Edilene have always been stigmatized. In their community, children used to taunt and tease them and adults used to consider them a bad omen. Medical treatment was never an option for them. One day, however, a medical expedition from the University of São Paulo School of Medicine finally found them. One of the doctors was moved by their story, and after getting in contact with the Division of Plastic Surgery, Rodrigo and Edilene were brought to São Paulo. In February of 2010 the siblings received cleft lip and palate repair. Ediana, their mother, could not believe her children went from being an evil curse to very lucky and blessed new kids. After two weeks they went back home, and now because of the Smile Train partnership their lives are completely changed.”
“Maria Eduarda’s parents are teenagers that were devastated when they saw their first newborn daughter was born with cleft lip and palate. In addition to being young, inexperienced parents, there were feeding difficulties and compromised weigh gain related to the cleft deformity. Because they had little money, they initially thought there would be no solution to their baby’s problem. But after a pediatric consultation, they were referred to the Craniofacial Center of the University of São Paulo School of Medicine. At their first consultation they received instructions on feeding, surgeries, post-operative care and speech and aesthetic issues, which has alleviated much of their anxiety. One month later, Maria Eduarda underwent primary cleft lip repair. Because of the treatment protocol established by the partnership of Smile Train, her parents are now much more confident their baby’s problem can be solved.”