Lima, Peru — Lightning has long fascinated and influenced mankind: from the myths of its use as a weapon of gods such as Zeus and Thor to Benjamin Franklin tying a key to his kite in a storm to children across the U.S. eagerly watching it strike on a warm summer’s night in the safety of their rooms. As science has disproved the supernatural, the awe still remains. Unfortunately, in more remote areas of the world, the superstitions remain as well.
Jhon Mancilla Aguilar was brought to Smile Train partner Cirplast by his mother, a young woman struggling to raise her child that she thought she unknowingly cursed. When Jhon’s mother was pregnant, she found herself staring at the sky watching in astonishment as lightning repeatedly struck in the distance before it reached her village. Her family rushed her inside fearing that the lightning would harm her unborn child. When Jhon was born with a unilateral cleft lip, she blamed herself, believing that she had cursed her son to a life of shame and humiliation.
She was living with deep guilt when a hospital outreach volunteer spotted her in the village and, after a long talk, convinced her that it was a birth defect that could easily be repaired for free by Smile Train. She immediately packed her things and took her son to have his cleft repaired so he could live a normal, happy life.
Jhon received his surgery and beautiful new smile. The burden of the unwarranted guilt that had weighed down his mother was lifted, and she eagerly took Jhon home to show her family the amazing miracle that occurred. She is full of hope that her son will have a good life for the first time since Jhon was born. All thanks to Dr. Carlos Navarro, his team, and Smile Train donors.