Think back to when you were sixteen. Now imagine being sixteen with an unrepaired cleft lip and palate.
For 16 years, Bharathi faced shame and stigma at every turn. No one in her small, rural community understood what it meant to be born with a cleft. She wanted to go to school like her peers, but gave up on her education because of the relentless teasing she faced. She shares that “no one at school would talk to me.”
Her family heard that there might be a place where their daughter could access treatment, but they didn’t have the money for surgery or ongoing care. Bharathi accepted that she would never have the opportunities other children had.
But Bharathi’s aunt had big dreams for her niece’s future. She learned about TF’s partner, ABMSS and accompanied Bharathi to her first appointment at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Our partner recalls the day they met her, sharing that “she was trembling and hardly spoke at all.” But they quickly told Bharathi the good news: her cleft was treatable! In December, Bharathi had her initial repair surgery. A second surgery has been scheduled, and ongoing care will be provided to ensure that she can fully and confidently participate at school and in her community.
Needless to say, the last few months have been life-changing for Bharathi. “I will go back to school now!” she tells the team excitedly. “I will look good and no one will tease me.”
Bharathi’s entire world has been transformed with access to comprehensive cleft care. Thanks to TF’s partner and our dedicated supporters, she is filled with hope for her future. Her new smile says it all!