When I Grow Up…

Kampala, Ugandatoday’s blog comes from Smile Train Marketing Associate Adina Wexelberg-Clouser, who is currently in Uganda as part of her Master’s degree and has been working with our partners in the field and visiting former patients.

Smile Train patient Olivia two years after her free cleft lip surgery

“I want to be a doctor!”

Before she received Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery at 10 years old, this is a dream that would never have been feasible for Olivia Nabusiita.

Born in a remote village hours outside of Kampala, Olivia’s mother had taken her newborn to a local healer to see if he could fix her daughter’s disfigured mouth. The healer, who had no surgical experience, had cut open her lips and attempted to stitch them back together. Soon after, the stitches burst open and Olivia spent her childhood being mocked and bullied by other children in her village.

Smile Train patient Olivia before free cleft lip surgery

When Olivia was six years old, her mother was no longer able to care for her and Olivia was sent to another village to live with her mother’s friend and her family. Because of the way she was treated by others in her village, she refused to attend school and seemed destined to spend her life as a social outcast. Years later, a neighbor heard a radio announcement about Smile Train’s free cleft surgery program at nearby Kibuli Muslim Hospital and told Regina that Olivia could be helped.

Although she was scared, Regina immediately took Olivia for treatment. Since her surgery two years ago, Olivia has returned to school and is determined to study hard in order to achieve her dream of giving others the same help that she has received. When asked what has changed in her life after receiving the surgery, a shy smile spreads across her face. “Now, I feel beautiful”, she responds.

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