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Why Smiles

Eleven-year-old Marceline was a bright girl with beautiful eyes. But to others in her village, she was an outcast and cursed because she was born with a cleft lip that left her nose, mouth and teeth disfigured.

EVERY 3 MINUTES,

a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate and may suffer from torments, malnourishment and difficulty with speech.

 

SOCIAL
STIGMA

“I just wanted to play with the other kids, but they only stared at me and laughed.”

-Marceline

 

HUNGER &
THIRST

“We did not know how to give her milk. I was worried she would die of thirst.”

-Marceline's Mother

 

SPEECH
IMPEDIMENT

“Even if I think I know the answer, I don’t raise my hand. I don’t want to be
called on.”

-Marceline

 

Marceline often hid at home. When she did venture out, she was bullied. People laughed at her, called her names and would spit on her.

“They told me: ‘Don’t come around here. You are making us sick to our stomachs.’ And they hit me.”

She tried to hide her face when she was out in public. She even stopped attending school. Marceline lived as an outcast.

When Marceline and her mother heard on the radio that Operation Smile was coming to Rwanda, friends lent them the money to make the long trip.

“When my name was called for surgery, I was so excited that I was shaking,” Marceline said. In just an hour, Operation Smile’s skilled surgeons repaired her cleft lip and reshaped her nose, giving her hope for a better life. Today Marceline is in school, and she’s confident for the first time in her life.

“OTHER KIDS ARE TELLING ME NOW THAT I LOOK BEAUTIFUL.”

 

A new smile changed Marceline's life. There are more children who need help.

VOLUNTEER

 

Read More

Angeline's Story

When Angeline was two months old, she was found without any clothes in an empty pig pen.

Danila's Story

Danila, a 5-year-old, had come with her mother to get the gap in her lip fixed. They had traveled for miles, for hours to receive surgery.

Oscar's Story

After seeing Oscar at birth, Marcela felt privileged that her brother could explain what a cleft lip and cleft palate meant.