Bujumbura, Burundi— As part of our STOP Clefts Burundi program, our partner Surgical Centre Smile Train Mbarara traveled from Uganda to host a free cleft surgery camp and help develop a local medical team to provide the surgeries themselves. Of the many patients to receive free cleft surgery, Mr. Nyawenda and his family certainly stand out.
Mr. Nyawenda is a security watchman at a facility in the capital. Having lived with an unrepaired cleft lip his entire life, when a friend told him that Smile Train was providing free cleft surgery, he was ecstatic but, at the same time, saddened.
When he arrived at the camp, he pressed to have his operation as quickly as possible since he would lose his job if he stayed too long. The medical team soon discovered that his mixed emotions about his upcoming surgery were not just from the fear of losing his job. Mr. Nyawenda’s four children aged 17, 9, 5, and 2 years old were all born with cleft lips.
The doctors asked why he did not bring his children with him. He sadly admitted that they were in his village over 120km (75 miles) away. He hadn’t seen them for a long time and he didn’t have the money to go get them. Within hours, our Smile Train partner had a car pick the children and Mom up and they were on their way to the hospital.
After lots of hugs and a happy a reunion, the children were examined and cleared for surgery. When their sutures heal and the swelling goes down, Mr. Nyawenda, his wife, and their four children will have plenty to smile.