Bere’s Story: No Need For Silence

Javier Campuzano Bere was born in Hidalgo Mexico with a cleft lip and palate. Bere’s mother, Domitila said that Bere had several cleft related medical problems, but despite them, she was a happy little girl.

When Bere got older she was excited to start her first day of school. However, when she got there the other kids made fun of her and started to call her names. When she returned home after her first day, Bere told her mother she never wanted to go back to school again. Bere became ashamed to talk at school because her schoolmates would come and look at her mouth and stare. So Bere gave up speaking at school altogether, and until her mom would pick her up at the end of the day she would just sit in a chair saying nothing.

Fortunately, Domitila found out about Smile Train, and was relieved to find that they would give Bere free surgery, she could not afford, to fix her cleft lip and palate. After the surgery her mother was so pleased and they both decided they would give school a second chance. A few weeks after the surgery, Bere was back in school and the other children were happy to see her.

Now Bere is doing great, she has many friends, and is much more talkative and outgoing. Her mother says, before Bere’s surgery she would never draw faces with a mouth, but now she loves drawing them and now the mouths always have a smile. Javier Campuzano

Li Suhai: An Improbable College Dream

Li Suhai after his follow up nose revision surgery

Li Suhai after his follow up nose revision surgery

Henan, ChinaIn his own words, 22 year old Li Suhai talks about the obstacles he had to overcome while growing up with a cleft in order to attend college.

My name is Li Suhai, I am 22 years old, and this is my story. I was born in a remote village of Henan and my family was very poor. My childhood was spent in misery and ridicule. Other children called me “rabbit lip”, and I was always fighting with them. Even though I wanted to speak, my words did not come out clearly which made me extremely angry and frustrated. Gradually I began to feel inferior and alienated by others.

In hopes of finding a cure for my birth defect, my father sold our only pig and took me to see a doctor in town, but sadly the money was not enough. My father and I returned home that day feeling hopeless. I secretly vowed that one day I would go to college to change my life, and help my family.

In 2003, when I was six, my father heard a message from our neighbor’s radio that a hospital in Zhoukou treats cleft lip and palate patients from Henan for free. With a heart full of hope, my father took me to Zhoukou Central Hospital. Stomatology director, Zhang Yuejin warmly received us, and reimbursed our travel expenses. Before long I got my surgery, and I will never forget the happy look on my father’s face when I revealed my new smile.

Since receiving help from Smile Train I have kept forging ahead in my life. I completed elementary school and went on to complete high school. Being encouraged and motivated by Smile Train’s spirit, I enjoyed learning, and step by step I have tried to improve my knowledge every day. All my hard work paid off the autumn day when I got the admission notice to my favorite college. It was a very important turning point in my life, and my college dream came true thanks to Smile Train.

Very big thanks to Smile Train and Zhoukou Central Hospital for returning hope into my life. I will continue to be grateful, work hard, and dedicate my time to bettering society, and giving back to everyone who cares for me.

New Year, Fresh Start: Lucas Oliveira Success Story

As a child, one of the hardest parts about having a cleft is looking different from everyone around you and finding acceptance. It’s not uncommon for children who attend school with clefts to be excluded from play, taunted and teased. Lucas Oliveira was one of these children stigmatized and bullied for his cleft and this unfortunately led to low self-esteem. Lucas says, “I spent the first 8 years of my life growing up very shy and sad.”

Thanks to Smile Train Partner Hospital, Associação Saúde Criança, Lucas was able to receive free surgery for his cleft and after the surgery and the physical and emotional healing started to begin. Next, Patricia signed Lucas up for music therapy treatment. Lucas began singing every day, and he even got his brother to practice singing with him when they were at home and the therapy was an astounding success. These choir sessions encouraged Lucas, boosted his confidence, and made him more comfortable with his speech. Today Lucas, besides being a singer is also a champion jiu jitsu fighter, an actor in soap operas, and a global model.

Patricia, says that she is forever grateful, and that she still, sends hospital updates and pictures of Lucca’s amazing progress. What a success story!

Lucas, after surgery, in one of his model shots.

Lucas, after surgery, in one of his model shots.

After Surgery, Teased No More

Hussain beforeHussain after

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.