When Dinesh was born, his parents knew he would always be different from other children. Dinesh was born with a severe cleft lip and palate. Worried about the stigma and social isolation the family would have to face, Dinesh’s father, Mani, wanted to abandon him.
But a mother’s heart could not allow this. Sumathi was determined to take care of her son. The journey was not easy but her determination and willpower kept her going. When all doors seemed to have closed, Sumathi came to know about the Smile Train program at Sri Ramchandra Medical College and Research Institute in Chennai.
She visited the hospital, met our partner Dr. Jyotsna Murthy and learnt that Dinesh’s cleft can be treated but would require multiple surgeries along with speech therapy and other treatment for complete rehabilitation. That the complete treatment would be totally free was a blessing as she knew they could never afford the cost. Her determination to see him smile, kept her going. Dinesh and Sumathi made numerous, long journeys to the hospital to ensure that his treatment never suffered and that he benefitted from the quality speech therapy program at the hospital.
In this journey of healing a cleft, Dinesh’s biggest strength was his mother’s determination and teachings- to pursue his dreams despite all odds, to work hard and study, irrespective of what people thought of him. The more people mocked him, the harder he worked.
Today, Sumathi smiles with satisfaction. Dinesh is studying engineering after securing 94% in his 12th board examination and dreams of a bright future.
His father’s eyes also fill with tears of joy at his son’s academic excellence. He is sure that Dinesh will make him famous in their neighborhood!
This Mother’s Day, we pay tribute to many mothers like Sumathi who support their children born with clefts, and give them the values and courage to overcome all challenges in life.
Happy Mother’s Day!