Tense for a Reason

July 29, 2007

Why? (Final Post #49)

Filed under: Blogathon, Smiles — Tense @ 7:59 am

before - India after - India

THAT’S why.

Good night.


One More Precious Smile (Post #40)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 3:30 am

Kabir after

Kabir was born with a bilateral cleft lip and this had a devastating impact on his appearance. Whenever his mother took him out in public, they were the subject of curious stares and ridicule. So, looking out for her son’s best interests, Kabir’s mother kept him hidden away at home.
In Nigeria, as in most developing countries, many people think clefts are an evil curse and a bad omen. Many babies born with clefts are immediately abandoned. The families are afraid that the cleft will end up ruining all of their lives. Kabir’s mother never considered abandoning her son, but at the same time she was very fearful for their future. Sitting together on the dirt floor of the small hut they call home, Kabir and his mother had no plan and no hope for the future. Until they heard about The Smile Train.
One day, a family friend told them about an amazing program at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria, Nigeria. It was sponsored by The Smile Train and was offering free cleft surgery to poor African children who could not afford it. Soon, Kabir and his mother were sitting face-to-face with Smile Train partner surgeon, Dr. Emmanuel A. Ameh who explained that little Kabir’s cleft could be fixed through surgery. In addition, since Kabir was only 7 months old, his cleft would be fixed before he developed any speech problems.
Suddenly, Kabir went from being a 7 month-old shut-in with no future to a very lucky little boy. His surgery went very well and the result is inspiring. Today, his mother takes him everywhere she goes and she will never forget how both of their futures were changed by a surgery that took less than an hour.

Precious babies make this staying up all night worth it. For every 250 dollars raised, one poverty-stricken child receives a free cleft lip or cleft palate surgery. We’ve almost raised enough for 2 children to have complete repairs! It’s still not too late to donate… But only 4-and-a-half hours left!

July 28, 2007

Yet Another Story to Make You Smile (Post #32)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 11:30 pm

Hopefully, I’ve got some new night-owl readers along for the ride with me now, so let me ‘splain again why I’m here…  What follows is another story from my charity’s (The Smile Train) “Smiles” page on their website.  I never want to lose sight of why I decided to do this and why I’m determined to stick it out until 8 o’clock tomorrow morning, especially as I’m beginning to get really sleepy now.  These kids deserve to be able to smile when they’re happy, and they deserve a life free from persecution (and in some cases, abandonment).  And while I too was born with a cleft lip, I have no idea what they might go through if they don’t get access to these free repair surgeries; my parents loved me in spite of my physical deformity. Don’t forget, it’s never too late to donate.

Shivarudrayya (Shiva) was born with a severe cleft lip and palate in a very poor, rural area of Northern India. His father is a laborer who earns about 50 cents a day. But that’s when he can get work, which is usually only 10-15 days a month.
Shiva’s parents were in shock when Shiva was born with a massive cleft. They thought it was a curse and they blamed themselves. Local folklore states that clefts occur when a pregnant woman uses a knife during an eclipse.
Even worse, they did not know that cleftsShiva can be repaired until they came across an advertisement in the local newspaper that a neighbor read to them (they are both illiterate) about a Smile Train clinic in the nearby town.
Shiva was operated on by one of Smile Train’s best partners, Dr. K. Gopal Krishnan and his all-Indian medical team, at SDM College of Dental Sciences & Hospital in Dharwad, India. Since he was operated on when he was so young, Shiva was saved from many years of pain and heartbreak. And he will never develop the kind of speech impediment that is often impossible to correct in children who have their clefts repaired much later in life. He may never know how truly lucky he is.

More Smiles (Post #24)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 7:30 pm

YiYun After

In her first eleven years, Yi Yun (China) faced a lifetime of heartbreak and disappointment. Because of her cleft, her parents abandoned her soon after she was born. Adopted by her uncle, Yi Yun lives in a home where grinding poverty requires her to work very hard.
School was never an option. Her cleft greatly affected her speech and it made it almost impossible for her to communicate. All the children in her village taunted and teased her.
One day, she received news that she had been chosen to receive free surgery from The Smile Train. This surgery has changed her life. For the first time in her life she can go to school, and speech training is helping her learn how to speak properly. Some of her first words after surgery were a heartfelt “thank you” to her surgeon.

And THAT is the reason I’m doing this. It’s still not too late to donate, and you can rest assured that 100 percent of your money goes to the kids.

Look at That Smile (Post #16)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 3:30 pm

For Angelica Joy (AJ) Fabroa, getting the operation needed to fix her cleft lip was a challenge. The youngest of four children, AJ was born in the Philippines into a poor, hardworking and loving family.
Angelica  When AJ was born, her father started crying at the sight of her cleft lip. He and his wife were devastated, but neither of them lost hope because they knew her cleft could be treated. Knowing that AJ would have trouble feeding, they placed her in the care of a local mission that treated children with clefts. However, because AJ had been underweight since birth and had a weak body, the local mission evaluated her and would not operate.
When AJ and her parents returned a second time, again she could not pass the physical due to her low body weight and they were told to hospitalize her. AJ’s parents could never afford to pay for the cost of a hospital stay and so they began searching for another alternative.
Soon after, a local council official visited their small community and told AJ’s parents about The Smile Train Cleft Care Program run in conjunction with the Philippine Band of Mercy. In a matter of weeks, AJ finally received the surgery to repair her deformity.
Today, little AJ is a healthy and happy two-year-old, who can eat normally and is starting to talk. Because of the determination of her family and The Smile Train, the Fabroa family can all smile together!

What a beautiful little girl, huh?  Please consider donating to the cause if you haven’t already done so.  I get nothing out of this except a good feeling for having helped a worthy cause.  And I’m sure I’ll say it again before this 24 hours is over, but thanks to everyone who’s been supporting me along the way; it means a great deal to me, and you’re helping the cause, as well.

Gabriel’s Story – Brazil (Post #10)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 12:30 pm

Here’s another story from The Smile Train; I don’t want to lose sight of why I’m doing this.

Gabriel’s parents, Andrea and Adriano, were devastated when they saw their newborn son was born with a cleft lip. Adriano knew he could work from sunup to sundown every day for the rest of his life and never have enough money to pay for surgery.
Nevertheless, with the hope that the doctors would take pity on Gabriel, Andrea and Adriano made their way to a cleft clinic. They prayed every step of the way. Luck was on little Gabriel’s side that day. The clinic had just formed a partnership with The Smile Train that would empower the hospital to give cleft surgery to hundreds of poor children in Brazil for free. Gabriel would be one of the first lucky children.
For Gabriel and his family, it was like winning the lottery and the prize they will see and cherish every day for the rest of their lives.

Gabriel after

Isn’t he adorable?  There are plenty more stories on The Smile Train’s “Smiles” page.

The Smile Train’s Mission (Post #6)

Filed under: Blogathon, Smiles — Tense @ 10:30 am

I pulled this straight from The Smile Train’s website, since I figure they can tell y’all better than I can what they’re all about.

This is our mission:
-To provide free cleft surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries.
-To provide free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals.

Until there are no more children who need help and we have completely eradicated the problem of clefts.

What Makes The Smile Train Different:

  • Focused on a single problem: cleft lip and palate.
  • Teach a man to fish: we empower local doctors in developing countries.
  • 100% of your donations used for programs.
  • The lowest cost per surgery of any cleft charity.
  • Best safety and quality record amongst cleft charities.
  • We bring your donations to the poorest countries on earth which magnifies the impact.
  • We help children in 71 of the world’s poorest countries.

Look at that third bullet point: 100 percent of your donation goes to the kids who need it.  I think that’s what impresses me most about this charity.  …Not to mention the precious smiles they help to create.  Anyone who comes this way can help too… It’s not too late to donate.

China baby before       China baby after

My Cleft Story and Anu’s (Post #4)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 9:30 am

Anu before Anu after

Look at that beautiful smile! This is what The Smile Train does. I don’t have a story to go with Anu’s pictures, but I think they speak for themselves.

I wish I had pictures of myself with my cleft to show y’all here. I had hoped to make it down to my grandmother’s before the Blogathon began to get some of my baby pics and scan them, but I ran out of time, as usual. My cleft lip wasn’t as severe as Anu’s; in fact, my mom remembers that many people asked her why I sneered so much. (My dad called me Elvis, hardyharhar.) Mom said it didn’t take me long to learn to suck from a bottle on the left side of my mouth; in fact, my husband pointed out to me not too long ago that I still suck from a straw on my left side exclusively. I guess some habits never die.  My mother also told me that she had grown so accustomed to the way I looked with my cleft lip that she really didn’t want me to have the repair surgery; thank goodness, she thought about the future and went ahead with it.  Imagine the teasing I would have had to endure in elementary school and beyond.

I had to have 2 surgeries to repair my cleft; the first was when I was only 3 months old and I had another when I was 7 years old.  I still have a scar, but it’s not too noticeable.  Some people see it right away, but most of the time, it’s years before people notice it, or maybe it takes them that long to get the courage to ask me about it.  I’m not sensitive about my scar at all; the only thing that really bugs me is how long it takes me to put on lipstick — I have to draw my top lip to be even.  The only other thing that even remotely hints that I once had a birth defect is my uneven nostrils; that’s where my surgeons found a skin match to build my lip. But on the rare occasions when I feel sorry for myself, I just think about the fact that I was blessed to have parents who had the resources to give me a normal life.  The children whom The Smile Train helps do not, and I recently read that approximately one in every 650 children born has a cleft lip and/or palate.  And I’d be willing to bet that the majority of those born with clefts are born in poverty-stricken nations.  The Smile Train is usually able to do for these children what my plastic surgeons did with just one surgery, and in most cases, it only costs 250 dollars. Isn’t that amazing?!

I feel honored to be able to do my small part to help bring awareness to this all-too-common birth defect, and I’m so thankful to those of you who are also donating your time and/or your money to this project.  We’re doing a good thing.

Why I’m Doing This (Post #2)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 8:30 am

I only learned of the existence of The Smile Train in the past couple of months; I saw an ad in the back of a magazine, and went to their website to check it out. I couldn’t believe what I read there… This organization provides FREE cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for kids living in poverty. The other thing that amazes me is that in cultures foreign to the one in which I’ve grown up, many of the children born with this very common birth defect are seen as cursed and often are abandoned by their families. For instance, read the story of Bhavani, whom The Smile Train was able to help when she was only 6 months old:

Thirupathi Rao and his wife were a happily married couple. They settled in a small village in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh in India. They are agricultural laborers, and whenever they manage to get work, they earn less than $2.00 per day.
Their first child was a healthy boy. But when Mrs. Rao gave birth to her second child, the family was shocked to see that the baby girl had a disfiguring facial deformity. They thought it was a curse from the gods, and they were so despondent about the whole issue, they wanted to abandon the child.
Luckily for the baby girl, her mother learned about The Smile Train cleft project through other members of her village who also had a child born with a cleft.
The baby girl was brought to Vijetha Hospital at Vijayawada and was examined by the chief surgeon and the director of the project Dr. P.M.C. Naidu.
After the surgery Bhavani’s family was thrilled to see her with a normal looking lip, and their joy could not be translated into words. They no longer feel like they have been cursed, but rejoice when they see their beautiful baby girl smile!

THIS is what your money and my time is doing. It’s giving normal lives to children who otherwise are would be outcasts. It’s giving them the ability to eat, and talk and smile, and it’s giving their families hope. Please consider donating if you haven’t already done so.

July 22, 2007

Good News

Filed under: Blogathon, Smiles — Tense @ 2:50 pm

I sent The Smile Train an email letting them know about my upcoming involvement with the Blogathon and asking if I could use some of their pictures and stories to help with the cause, and I got the nicest, most informative email reply. I’m getting more and more excited about this by the day. Check this out (I combined the 2 emails I received):

Wow! Thanks for sharing your story and for considering the Smile Train for this event. You do have permission to post our stories and use our pictures. Please let me know how this goes. This is a first Blog event for us and it is really exciting. I will send you some pictures you can use.
If people want to make a donation instruct them to go to our website, pick tribute donation, and put your name in the tribute. In that way I can track any additional donation from your blog. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit www.smiletrain.org or call 1-877-KID-SMILE. 100% of your donation goes toward programs – 0% goes toward overhead. All nonprogram expenses, such as overhead and fundraising, are paid for with start-up grants from Smile Train founding supporters.

Michele Sinesky
Special Project Coordinator

Smile Train

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