Bahati was born at his mother and father’s home in Ushirombo, Tanzania. His parents were so shocked by his cleft lip and palate that they refused to raise him. They had never seen a child with an unrepaired cleft and believed their son was bewitched.
Bahati was passed to his grandmother, Justina. She said that Bahati struggled as a child because she could only feed him light porridge through a bottle. For three years Bahati lived in the same village as his parents, but they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. The couple even had a daughter they cared for in their own home.
When Bahati turned three-years-old, Justina took him to a local doctor to see if he could repair his cleft. The doctor told Justina that Bahati’s cleft could be repaired and made arrangements for her to get to Smile Train partner hospital CCBRT.
When they arrived, Bahati was had a coughing fit and an asthma attack. Justina wouldn’t let it deter her from getting her grandson the help he needed, so they stayed at the hospital for two weeks until he was healthy enough for surgery.
After successful surgery, Justina said she was excited to go back to her village and show everyone how great Bahati looked. Justina said, “When we see my son and daughter-in-law at our local well, they will probably want to take him back; but I’ve spent the last three years raising Bahati and he is my son.”