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Testimonials: Before and After Smiles...

Operation Smile's volunteer medical professionals travel around the world to treat children suffering from facial deformities. Their efforts mean new smiles for thousands of children, including these former patients:

Brigid Turkana Girls The Makokha Family John Maina Ibrahim

The Makokha Family

Isaac Makokha has six children, four of whom were born with bi-lateral cleft lips and cleft palates. He, too, was born with a cleft lip, which he had repaired 28 years ago at the Kabete mission hospital. He had his cleft palate repaired in a subsequent hospital visit. His first child, Paul Musungu, now 22, received surgery when he was seven years old.

The Operation Smile November 2007 medical mission during the organization’s World Journey of Smiles initiative was the first opportunity that three of his other children, Tom Mulungo, age 20, Sylvandus Wekesa, age 18, and their sister Robai Murunga, age 12, had to receive the surgery necessary to repair their facial deformities. They travelled from their home in the Lugari district of Kenya to Kisumu, Kenya for the chance to be able to smile. The family was first in line when the volunteer medical professionals arrived to perform the physical examinations during the screening phase of the medical mission.

Tom, Sylvandus, and Robai all attend school, but their inability to communicate and constant ridicule because of their deformities has severely affected their learning. It was through a teacher of Tom’s that the family found out about Operation Smile.

While the causes of cleft lip and cleft palate have not been determined, it is believed that it can be genetic. Although he has not met them to confirm his family history, Mr. Makokha believes that members of his mother’s extended family also suffered from facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. In the Lugari district, where the family lives, it is believed that these deformities are caused by a warthog passing by one’s house when the woman is pregnant.

“The children were afraid they would not come out alive,” says their father. “But since their operations, the children socialize better and have improved in school.” All three siblings received surgery to repair their cleft lips during the November medical mission and have been scheduled to receive cleft palate surgery through Operation Smile in 2008.

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