New Delhi, India — We recently received a message on Facebook from one of our former patients, Ribhalin, a young woman from India. In 2008, Ribhalin received free cleft palate surgery from Smile Train partner surgeon Dr. Werlok Kharshiing and his team at Woodland Hospital. Over the Holidays she sent us a sweet thank you note. We asked her how she has been since her surgery and she kindly allowed us to share her story [emphases in her message are our own].
I was born with a secondary cleft palate. As I was the first child, my parents got scared to get my operation done. When I was a child, most of the time I was sick due to the high risk for respiratory tract infection and I had difficulty while eating food. I went to school and my teachers, friends, neighbours, and relatives teased me for the way I talked and most of them didn’t like to talk to me. Because of this, I always had an inferiority complex and cursed myself.
But it was in 2008 when I met Dr AC Phukan and Dr Valarie from NEIGRIHMS. They encouraged me to get my operation done. I was 22 at the time. I told my parents, but my parents refused because they were daily labourers and we didn’t have money even to eat. How will they get my operation done in a costly hospital? For myself I wanted to because I wanted to be normal, I didn’t want to get rejected again and again when going for my interviews or while talking to others.
Thanks to Dr Phukan and Dr Valarie. They took me to Smile Train where they explained I didn’t have to pay for the operation. My parents agreed and in June 2008, I had my operation. After my cleft operation, I was free from infection and had no problem while eating food and people could understand what I speak. Thank you so much Smile Train for helping me.
I’ll be happy to share my story with the people who support me and especially the people who have cleft lip and cleft palate like me so that we will have a new life again. At present, I’m a nurse working in a private hospital. It was hard for me to get admission anywhere — they took me as handicapped before my surgery. Thanks to Smile Train for my operation so that I can be like other people and now I’m working happily as a nurse, and having a great future.
Thank you Smile Train for helping me. May God bless every member of Smile Train. You have really changed our lives 🙂