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.
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.”