Vineesh was born in 2012 to a humble family living in the village of Neriya, India near the coastal region of Karnataka. He has two siblings whom he enjoys playing with. Vineesh enthusiastically attends school each day and hopes to grow up to be a teacher. He excels at mathematics, which happens to be his favourite subject.
Vineesh was born at home, just like his siblings. Throughout the first ten years of his life, he had never received a hospital assessment as he was generally in good health. He was the first in the family to have been born with a cleft lip. For many parents, this can be a distressing experience. However, for Vineesh’s family, his cleft was seen as a sign of good luck as a result of community-held beliefs.
Because of this widely held belief in the village, Vineesh did not experience the bullying that many children with cleft endure. Throughout his childhood, he did face challenges with his speech and dental health which prompted concern from his parents.
In May of 2022, Transforming Faces’ local partner, ABMSS, based in Bangalore, held a community outreach camp for cleft awareness at a local hospital near Vineesh’s village. Vineesh’s parents heard about this camp and decided to take him there for assessment and to learn more. While attending this camp, they learned of the potential health concerns and treatability of cleft and felt compelled to make an appointment for Vineesh for further assessment at the Hospital.
When Vineesh travelled with his family to Bangalore, he was taken for assessments of his speech and dental condition, and he saw an ear-nose-throat specialist. After these check-ups, Vineesh’s parents felt confident in the treatment plan and through counselling saw the benefit their son could experience through treatment.
On June 12th, Vineesh underwent surgery for his cleft lip. While he is still healing, he and his family are happy with the initial outcome and the next step will be for him to attend speech therapy – preparing him for his dream to become a teacher. Although his community highly regarded his cleft, they supported his parents’ decision to provide Vineesh treatment to improve his well-being.