Lahore, Pakistan—When five-year-old Hussain’s mother first looked at him when he was born she got faint, overwhelmed with intense grief. She had finally given birth to a son after two daughters, but Hussain was born with a cleft lip and palate. Because of her intense sorrow, the mother was brought to the hospital, but not the newborn.
As Hussain grew he became the victim of ridicule. Often when relatives visited they would bite their fingers with shock and say, “It is better not to have a son instead of having such an offspring.”
Hussain did not play with other boys in the neighborhood because they all teased him. They would touch his cleft lip and laugh. Besides the teasing, Hussain had trouble eating throughout childhood and could only eat food from one side of his mouth and drink with a spoon.
In the hope of helping as many cleft patients as possible, the Smile Train team from Lahore Cleft Centre happened to visit Hussain’s village and found the little boy. They assured Hussain and his parents that he could receive operations to fix both his lip and palate and it would cost the family nothing.
Some neighbors tried to convince Hussain’s father not to let the Smile Train surgeons operate on his son incorrectly telling him, “They will take a muscle flap and flesh from one side of Hussain’s body and will graft it over the lip, which would be risky.” Trusting Smile Train and the surgeons though, Hussain’s father brought his son to Lahore Cleft Centre. The operation was successful and afterwards the staff assured Hussain and his parents that he would never again be an object of jest and fun. He would never again hear: “Oh see! The hole boy is coming.”
Hussain is now a happy little boy and his palate will also be repaired in six months.