Nairobi, Kenya — While many people celebrate the New Year by popping a bottle of Champagne and watching the ball drop in Times Square, our patients such as Abdi Hasan are celebrating in a different way — smiling. Smile Train Program Manager of East Africa, Dr. Esther Njoroge, sent us an email wishing everyone a Happy New Year and sharing a wonderful story of the man with cleft whom she met on Christmas Eve:
Happy New year to you all! As we start 2012, I have a story to share.
The day before Christmas I was walking in Nairobi town and I bumped into a young man while crossing the road. The first thing I noticed was his cleft lip and I grabbed his arm and pulled him aside. I was more surprised than he was because in all my years at Smile Train, I had never seen a cleft patient walking around town. I introduced myself and asked him if he had ever heard of cleft repair. He told me he was from North Eastern Kenya and had come to Nairobi hoping to get his cleft repaired but so far had not been successful in finding a doctor since he had no money. I told him Smile Train can help him get his cleft repaired, and more so at no cost to him. He did not believe me. Fortunately I had a brochure with me so I gave it to him with my phone number and asked him to tell his relatives to call me. Sure enough that eveing the cousin called. To cut the long story short, we organized for him to be picked up and taken to Metropolitan Hospital on 31st Dec. When they got to Metropolitan and were given the ST consent form to sign, they read it word for word and they only had one question, what is the catch? Will we be told to pay once he comes from theatre or you want to take his kidneys?…the cousin called me and asked if it was a hoax. I reassured him…
The surgery was done the same day and Abdi Hassan received a New Year gift, courtesy of a stranger to him! He is doing well. He is very grateful and says he will take the message back to Wajir where he comes from and knows of many patients suffering from the same.
And that, is my New Year motivation to do more for cleft patients.”
— Dr. Esther Njoroge.
In a few more days, the swelling will go down, and Abdi will be able to start a new chapter in his life thanks to Esther, our donors, and Dr. Wanjeri and the Metro Hospital team. To all of our patients who are starting their lives anew, our amazing supporters and partners that make Smile Train run, Happy New Year!