Naf is a two-year-old girl from Myanmar, when we first met her. She was wearing her pink coat and looking at the toys in our hands. As soon as we handed the toys to her, her face lit up with a contagious smile, spreading happiness to the people around her.
We found out that Naf was raised by her grandparents, from our conversation with her grandmother. Due to her family’s financial circumstances, Naf’s mother could only give birth at home. Unfortunately, two weeks after giving birth to Naf, her mother passed away. When Naf’s father discovered that his daughter was born with cleft lip and cleft palate, he couldn’t accept it and left her, and never came back.
Recalling the first time Naf’s grandmother saw the new born girl, she was shocked. “I had never seen a child with cleft lip and cleft palate in my village. My hands were shaking when I was holding her.” Naf’s grandmother was worried and uncertain about Naf’s future. She did not give up on Naf despite her appearance.
Fortunately, Naf’s family received help from the Wa State Womens Association Charitable Foundation, and found out that Operation Smile provides free surgeries to children with cleft lip and cleft palate. Naf’s grandmother carried Naf from Myanmar to Lancang Lahu in China.
We came to understand that Naf’s grandfather is the only source of income for the family, supporting Naf, her grandmother and her 7-year-old brother. Regardless of the challenges that they’re facing, they always carry big smiles on their faces. Naf was sitting quietly on her bed, waiting for her surgery while the other children were crying and throwing tantrums.
On their way to the operation room, Naf’s grandmother believed that as soon as the surgery was over, Naf would no longer have to suffer from discrimination and will have a better life.
Although Naf lost her mother at an early age and her father left her soon after, her life took a turn for the better after the surgery. Finally, Naf can now start her new life with a smile.
Operation Smile strives to help every child with cleft conditions, bringing more smiles to the world.
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