Leading a blissful married life with two kids, we were blessed with our third child, after a gap of 10 years. We eagerly awaited her birth but went numb when we first saw her. Our daughter, Zehra was born with a cleft lip and palate.
We can’t remember if we smiled even once during the first two weeks of her birth. I felt so helpless because I couldn’t even feed my daughter properly. Some of our relatives were supportive and helped us in this difficult time, however, the uncertainty of our daughter’s future, worried us throughout.
It was then that an acquaintance told us about Smile Train and the work they do, and encouraged us to meet Dr. Mittal at Bahl Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Ganganagar (Rajasthan). We were very nervous when we first met him, but his patience and the manner in which he explained the deformity and solution in detail, calmed us and gave us hope. He even showed us images of children who had undergone cleft repair surgeries in the past. On seeing their transformation, all my fears and inhibitions vanished, and I could already picture my daughter’s beautiful new smile. He even told us that the cost of the surgery will be supported by Smile Train which was another blessing for us.
When she was 6 months old, Zehra underwent cleft lip repair surgery at the hospital. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we first saw Zehra after the surgery. We don’t know whose donation resulted in a new smile for our daughter but, we can’t thank them enough, as their act of kindness gave our daughter a chance to live a normal life.
During the interactions with Dr. Mittal we got to know that Zehra is very lucky that she received a new smile, when many children are still living with untreated clefts because their parents are not able to afford these surgeries. Through this post, I want to thank all the donors who have made surgeries for children like Zehra possible, and hope that you would continue supporting charities like Smile Train so that no child in India continues to live with clefts. I can tell from experience, that it is not a good life to live!
Authored by Sheeba, Zehra’s mother. Zehra underwent cleft lip repair surgery at Bahl Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Rajasthan and would soon undergo a reconstructive surgery for her cleft palate.
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