While working on a project, I learnt about children with clefts and the hardships they face while growing up. I had never seen a cleft before, so I asked around to understand more about the problem. That’s when someone told me about Smile Train India, an organization which supports free treatment for children with clefts. Soon after, I visited a Smile Train Partner Hospital in Delhi and that turned out to be one of the most memorable days of my life!
As I entered the OPD area, a kid with a treated cleft ran up and started looking at me. As I smiled at him, he ran back to his mother and hid behind her. I walked up to his mother and as we got talking she narrated how she could have never imagined that her son would be able to smile when he was born. But today, with the help of Smile Train, her son is smiling and living a normal life, like other children.
For the first time, a hospital seemed to be a happy place with kids running around. Everyone was thankful to the almighty, the doctors and the Smile Train team at the hospital who gave their children second chances at life. I saw a few children with stitches who were in discomfort, but the parents were hopeful that the pain is short-lived and they will soon see a new smile on their child’s face.
I also wanted to meet the person behind all these smiles- Smile Train’s partner surgeon, Dr. S.C. Sood at Sant Parmanand Hospital, who has been treating children born with clefts for years. He welcomed me and we conversed for long. I could clearly see the passion in his eyes. He told me an interesting story of a couple from Agra. The wife was born with a cleft lip and was not accepted by either her parents or in-laws. She spent her life hiding her face under a purdah. One day, a friend informed her about free cleft surgeries under the Smile Train program. She gathered the courage to step out of her home and travel to Delhi for the treatment. Dr. Sood treated her and the hospital provided her all the required support. Remembering that day, Dr. Sood expressed how content he felt after her surgery. Dr. Sood was happy that she not only received a new smile but would now be accepted by her in-laws and lead a good life ahead.
A smile can do wonders and the people behind these smiles are an inspiration. Smile Train has given hope to many families with children with clefts. That day, I carried back a lot of memories and learnt the true meaning of a smile!
Shared by Shruti Kumari, a Smile Train supporter. Sant Parmanand Hospital is one of Smile Train’s partner hospitals in Delhi. Over 4000+ cleft treatments which include surgery and comprehensive cleft care have been supported at the hospital.