January Social Post of the Month

Mariam before and after her recent Smile Train surgery.

Mariam before and after her recent Smile Train surgery.

Smile Train partner surgeon Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Amponsah.

Smile Train partner surgeon Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Amponsah.


Sunyani, GhanaDr. Emmanuel Kofi Amponsah a Smile Train partner surgeon at the Nationwide Cleft Foundation in Ghana post the following story to our Smile Train Facebook Page recently his most recent patient, Mariam.

This is a cleft patient I found on my New Year’s trip to Nkoranza North District in Ghana. While in Busunyaa, the capital of Nkoranza North District, I was called by a community health nurse who had heard me speak about cleft on the radio. She had found a child born with a cleft lip. Lo and behold when I went to examine the child I found this nice girl named Mariam. I immediately transported her and her mum to Sunyani Regional Hospital, where I run my Smile Train program. She was admitted on January 6th, operated on January 7th, and discharged home January 8th. She will come for follow up on the 15th of this month.

A Brother’s Love

Naveed Khan, 14, before and after his Smile Train surgery in Pakistan. Naveed deferred his chance for cleft surgery to his sister when a generous landlord offered to help the young boy. Luckily, the family recently found Smile Train and now both siblings have the opportunity to smile.

Naveed Khan, 14, before and after his Smile Train surgery in Pakistan. Naveed deferred his chance for cleft surgery to his sister when a generous landlord offered to help the young boy. Luckily, the family found Smile Train so that both siblings have the opportunity to smile.

Peshawar, Pakistan—Fourteen-year-old Naveed Khan just may be the world’s best brother.

One of two siblings born with cleft, it seemed certain that Naveed and his sister would live the rest of their years without receiving the cleft repair surgeries they needed. The children’s parents, family members, and neighbors knew nothing about clefts. To them it was a curse from God. Even if the family had known that a simple surgery could help the brother and sister, there was no money to provide it.

The siblings were never sent to school and had no friends. Naveed’s sister spent her time in the home helping her mother with cleaning, sweeping, and chores in the kitchen, while Naveed went to work in the fields with his father. They secretly prayed for a miracle.

Soon other villagers became aware of the children’s clefts. Word that the son of a farmhand had an unrepaired cleft lip reached the villagers’ landlord. He quickly offered to sponsor Naveed’s cleft surgery.

Both Naveed and his sister now have their clefts repaired.

Both Naveed and his sister now have their clefts repaired.

Naveed was excited to hear that there was a cure for his misery. Although elated by the words of hope from the landlord, Naveed was also anxious. He told the landlord about his sister and asked if she too could receive surgery. With a heavy heart, the landlord sadly told Naveed and his father that he could not afford to pay for both surgeries.

Naveed decided to sacrifice for his opportunity so that his sister could receive the life-changing surgery first. Naveed told his father that the surgery would more positively impact her life—she could leave the house and eventually get married. Naveed’s sister had the surgery done while his cleft was left unrepaired. Although he was very happy for his sister, Naveed now knew that a smiling life was just one surgery away, but he could not have it.

Last month the family found Smile Train and its free cleft surgery program at Al-Shifa Health Care Center. They wasted no time and rushed to the clinic. Naveed got his free Smile Train surgery done last week and his joy after surgery could not be expressed in words. He is now a happy boy wearing a big smile rather than the scarf he used to cover his face.

In the words of his father, “Naveed got the payback and reward for the sacrifice he made for his sister.”