A New Smile

March 20, 2012
There are millions of people all over the world with cleft lip or cleft palate, medical disorders. Cleft lip is a congenital split in the upper lip on one or both sides of the center. Cleft palate is a congenital split in the roof of the mouth. Most of the time they come together, but sometimes cleft lip can come alone. Operation Smile is a non-profit organization that performs surgeries, all over the world, on kids who have facial disorders. Volunteer doctors, adults, and students travel around the world to perform the surgeries for free. This organization doesn’t just solve a child’s health problem, but these people give every child a new life. Operation Smile, along with giving children a new smile, also gives them the ability to go to school and sometimes even hear.
Operation Smile performs miracle surgeries everyday on people who can’t afford it. For Marceline, it wasn’t just a miracle, it was God’s will. He was giving her education back to her. Marceline lives in a village in Africa where there is a lot of poverty. She was born with a cleft lip that had left her nose, mouth, and teeth disfigured. Because of this facial deformity Marceline rarely left her home. Whenever she built up the courage to leave, people laughed at her, called her names, and spit on her. She was never allowed to eat or drink with other children because they were afraid she would contaminate them. The people of the village believed a curse had been bestowed upon her. Marceline should have been in sixth grade but she no longer went to school because of how she had been abused and tormented. When Marceline and her mother heard the Operation Smile was coming to a town near theirs they did everything they could to get there. After her surgery, Marceline went home as a new person. Marceline was able to catch up with all the kids her age and is now in eighth grade. Her teacher says she is one of the brightest students in her class. Many kids now tell her that she is beautiful and always want to talk to her. Operation Smile members recently asked her what she would like to do when she grew up, and without hesitation she answered, “I want to do what you do.”
Fernanda is a beautiful child who lives in the small community of La Florida. She attends a regular school and is very smart, but she could not hear the sound of her own laughter. Fernanda was deaf. Her parents said that because she was born hearing impaired and with a cleft lip, she is speech delayed. After spending time talking to Fernanda’s family, the Operation Smile team felt compelled to get her hearing aids. Thus Fernanda was on the top of the teams priority list. Fernanda got her surgery done very quickly and was immediately taken for follow-up care. Doctors say that she could not stop looking at herself in the mirror. In the mean time some Operation Smile members traveled back the United States to get an audiologist for Fernanda. A couple of days after their return to La Florida, Fernanda could hear, and now held a smile that refused to leave her face. Fernanda no longer screams to get somebody’s attention, and is now a very witty little girl. She is now working with Operation Smile speech therapists who say that she is no longer as speech delayed as she was. Operation Smile not only turned Fernanda into a new person, but also helped her step into a new world full of beautiful sounds.
These two lucky girls are not the only children who have been gifted with new lives. Operation smile has completed over millions of surgeries all over the world. Every three seconds a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. Operation Smile does their best to help every child they can every day. There is not a day when one of the members get tired of seeing so many smiles after every surgery. Operation Smile does their best to help every child have a better education and life, whether it be needing extra help to see, hear, or speak. After every surgery comes a new life full of wonder and hope.





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