Saira Bano, a ‘safai karamchari’ (sweeper) with the municipal corporation in Jabalpur, was sweeping the roads early morning when she saw a man placing a baby by the side of the road and running away. She picked up the crying child and tried chasing the man, but couldn’t catch him.
As she comforted the baby, she noticed his different appearance. She took the baby to a nearby hospital and was informed that the child has a cleft. The doctor on duty also told her that this could be treated free of cost at Dube Hospital, a Smile Train partner nearby.
As a mother of two daughters, there was a lot of family pressure on Saira Bano to have a son. As having another child was not possible due to certain medical complications, her in-laws shunned her. Saira even had to move out of her husband’s family home in Jharkhand. Saira wondered how someone could have abandoned a defenseless baby because of a condition that was not only treatable, but could also be availed of for free. As she held the innocent baby boy, her heart filled with love and she decided to adopt him.
However, her husband was not keen to adopt a child with a cleft. Saira decided to take the matters in her own hands and took the baby to Dube Hospital, Jabalpur for the free surgery. A simple surgery transformed the baby and when her husband saw the treated boy, he agreed to the adoption.
Today, baby Junaid is the apple of Saira’s eye, and is loved by the whole family. From being an abandoned child, Junaid not only got a new smile, but a loving family!
“In India, there are several cases of babies being abandoned or ostracised when they are born with clefts. This largely stems from a lack of awareness about clefts and its treatment. Some children with untreated clefts are isolated, and do not go to school or have a regular childhood. Some abandoned children, like Junaid, can find families that will love them like their own, but not all are so lucky. Here’s hoping that more families find the strength to fight preconceived notions about children with clefts, and seek treatment for their children.” says Dr Gunjan Dube, Smile Train partner surgeon at Dube Hospital, Jabalpur.
As narrated to the Smile Train team