“She did not stand alone, but what stood behind her, the most potent moral force in her life, was the love of her father” — Harper Lee
I was excited for the birth of our child and was very happy when I got to know we had a girl - Indu, a beautiful miracle of God. When I took her in my arms, my heart was filled with emotions, just like any other father. My absolute ecstasy changed to concern soon though, Indu looked different. My little baby was heading towards a tragic beginning. My wife and I, through our sorrow, strongly accepted the fact that Indu had a cleft lip and palate and I promised myself to make Indu smile just like any other child.
Indu couldn’t eat or drink properly. Her nutrition was affected, she wasn’t a healthy child and it made me uneasy. With little idea about what a cleft lip was, I started hunting for best solutions for Indu. The pain of seeing my daughter’s struggle worsened when relatives and friends asked me to give up on her, some even asked me to end her life. I stood between them and my child like a rock! Nothing shook me, how could it! It was my daughter.
I decided to do everything in my power to make her future healthier and happier. I believe when you put your heart, mind and soul into something, there is no stopping you from being successful at it. And surely, there was a way. A friend of mine told me about Dr. PMC Naidu at Aakruthi, a Smile Train partner hospital in Vijayawada. Without wasting any time, I took her to Dr. Naidu and the kind of support and motivation we got from him made my journey easier than I had ever anticipated. Not only did Dr Naidu guide us through the Cleft correction procedure, bearing our financial struggle in mind, he introduced us to Smile Train. I could not believe it when he told me that the cleft treatment my daughter needed would be 100% free of cost.
Indu was severely malnourished, so Dr. Naidu advised us to wait till she weighed above 5kg for us to go ahead with the surgery. Indu had to undergo two surgical procedures, and during this time Smile Train volunteers, and hospital staff gave me the much-needed promise and positivity of a successful outcome. Both her surgeries were then performed by Dr. Naidu without a single penny spent, thanks to Smile Train and it’s generous donors worldwide.
Today, Indu is 14 years old, and living her life to the fullest. Not only is she a brilliant student and bringing laurels in academics but also aspires to become a doctor.
Thanks to Smile Train, my little girl looks at life just like any other child. I have realised and I know it’s tough but giving up is not an option. And at the end of it all, my Indu’s smile makes it all worth fighting for. I promise every parent going through this that you can win this fight with the help of kind and encouraging doctors, like Dr. PMC Naidu and organisations like Smile Train.
I am grateful to Dr. Naidu, a compassionate soul, whom we still visit every year, and the Smile Train foundation for bringing hope and happiness in Indu’s life.
As narrated by Indu’s father, Suresh Babu on the occasion of Father’s Day 2021. Suresh runs his family as a private firm employee. He received support from Smile Train volunteers and partner hospital Aakruthi in Vijayawada.