Actions speak louder than words, and I believe that God chose us, the kids born with clefts, to prove this. I am Harkirat Singh Paras, and I am an entrepreneur, engineer, Youtuber, Google-Certified digital marketer, and brand photographer. I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate at a local nursing home at Amritsar, Punjab. Like all other parents, my parents were unsure about where to go and how to get medical attention. However, they were optimistic, and were determined to get me the best treatment as soon as possible. I underwent six surgeries — the first five at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and sixth at Amandeep Hospitals, Amritsar.
Till I was 18, I hardly spoke to anyone. The reasons included doctors advising me to talk less, five consecutive surgeries, and bullying by classmates for my voice. As I got older, the bullying got worse. I even got rejected in an interview just because of my cleft lip. This made me self-conscious, and I focused on my academics and staying healthy for each upcoming surgery.
However, my graduation was the turning point of my life. When I started college, I decided to leave behind my introverted nature and the fear of public speaking. During my Bachelors of Technology in Mechanical Engineering, I started to do research in fossil fuels. I published my various research papers on biodiesel and one of them won the Best Paper Presentation Award in a conference sponsored by the Government of India. I was elected as Student Head of the college and was conferred with Best Student Award by the ISTE Student Chapter. I was the first student of the college to get officially promoted to part-time employee for Social Media Management along with my studies.
Most of my friends and even my relatives don’t know that I can sing. Yes, you read it right. I am a cleft lip patient and I can sing. I have completed a 5-year vocal course from Pracheen Kala Kendra, which is equivalent to Master of Arts in Music. I have chanted in the world-famous Golden Temple. Currently, I am pursuing a Masters in Business Administration from Lovely Professional University in International Business. I am the founder and director of a conglomerate that does businesses in Industrial Hardware and Digital Services.
The world bows in front of those who believe in their dreams. I chose to stand up and work to change the mindset of people about me and the kids like me with cleft lip and cleft palate. Today, I proudly say that I talk to hundreds of clients and colleagues, and do business all over India. Thousands of normal speaking people ask me for guidance, motivation, help, and support.
Currently, I am undergoing treatment for Orthodontics and Speech Therapy at Smile Train’s partner, Amandeep Hospitals, Amritsar. I can feel the worries of the parents of other kids, who ask my mother about me during my checkups. When my mother tells them about my achievements, their million-dollar smiles and reassured expressions make my heart swell with pride. I still remember that emotional day when a father who was visiting Amandeep Hospital for the first time asked me for my guidance on how to raise his son.
Today, at every stage, I adore my brave parents, Dr. Puri, Dr. Ravi Mahajan, Dr. Sukhdeep Singh Kahlon, Dr. Manmeet Kaur, Dr. Amreen Kaur and most importantly, Smile Train. You all collectively gave me the most beautiful smile on this Earth.
As narrated by Harkirat Singh Paras. Harkirat was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and has undergone comprehensive cleft care through Smile Train.