Morelos, Mexico — Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that you are a 33-year-old mother of seven children living in a remote village in Mexico. In order to support your family, your husband has left to work abroad and you must work many jobs from gathering soil for potted plants to collecting edible cacti. On a good day, you make about three dollars doing these things. Also, your youngest child, Patricio, who your husband has not yet met, was born with a cleft lip and palate.
This is the reality of Smile Train patient Patricio’s mother, Leonor. When her youngest son was born, she desperately wanted to get him the help he needed, but could not afford to sacrifice what it would take to get to the nearest Smile Train partner hospital one and a half hours away. How would she pay for the trip? How would she make up the lost wages? Leonor sadly determined that Patricio’s treatment would have to wait.
Luckily, Smile Train partner, Centro Estatal de Atencion para Labio y Paladar Hendido de Aguascalientes, heard about Patricio and Leonor and sent one of their social workers to them. They helped provide nutritional support for Patricio to get him strong enough for surgery, and helped with transportation to and from the hospital. Because Leonor still needed to work each day to support her family, Patricio’s eldest sister, 16-year-old Veronica, accompanied him for his surgery and follow-up visits.
Patricio now will have surgery to close his cleft palate and then possibly speech therapy after. At each visit, the the team assures Veronica that neither she nor her mother have to worry about the cost. All the consultations, surgeries, and therapies are free of cost for her little brother thanks to Smile Train.