10 years ago, James (not his real name) was born with physically disability on his face. He was born with cleft lip and cleft palate. This was giving him more challenges when eating and drinking.
Apart from failing to eat properly, he also faced discrimination in the diverse society. As a result of discrimination, he was unable to interact with others to acquire other knowledge and skills.
As the words of God Almighty soothes the wounds and eases the hardships of all created beings, as He says, “With every hardship there is relief,” (94:5) James who had no hope that his lip problem will come to an end received an invitation from “Operations Smile”, a non-governmental organization which works in order to assist people with facial deformities.
Now, James is a proud person after he was operated. He wears a more desirable and decent appearance on his face. The operation which gave him a new looks opened doors of friends and acceptance of relatives.
In his remarks on the progress of operations done to different people in the country, “Operation Smile”, Country Director Ibrahim Mutharika said his organization has assisted more people in four years of its existence in Malawi.
Mutharika: all services are absolutely free of charge
“Operation Smile is a non-governmental organization which is working in over 60 countries worldwide and 13 countries in Africa including Malawi. It was introduced in Malawi in 2012 and it has assisted over 600 people since it came in Malawi,” said Mutharika.
The organization was running without having the permanent offices but currently is planning to introduce its office in Lilongwe.
One of the young girls who was assisted by Operation Smile showing her face before and after the operation respectively
“We offer free services starting from transport, accommodation and the surgery which we carry out. We had no offices but now I can assure you that very soon, we will have permanent offices in Lilongwe where we will be carrying out the operation apart from visiting in different public hospitals,” said the Country Manager.
Asked on where does the organization get its funds Mutharika said; “We have a list of organizations which take part in this initiative but mostly, we thank the government for its support to allow us going into different public hospitals to assist these people and also we have other companies like Cross Roads and Press Trust Just to mention a few. We have doctors who are the experts in this operation from different countries who work voluntarily with us. On top of that the government of Malawi also gives us other doctors.”
According to research conducted by Operation Smile indicates that Cleft lips and palates occur in approximately 1 per 1,000 births and 1 in 10 babies dies before their first birthday due to consequent malnutrition and infections. Children with clefts can grow up with speech abnormalities and breathing problems and furthermore, these children are often ostracized, thought of as evil and forced to live a life of shame and isolation.