Shanti, a middle-aged lady from Assam, has a story to tell as no others have come across. Her 45-year-long wait for transformation from cleft to smile reinstates faith in humanity. It reiterates more the saying, “patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
Born with a bilateral cleft, Shanti has spent years of isolation and dejection. Her parents tried to find a suitable match for her. Unfortunately, no one came forward to marry a girl with cleft lip deformity. Finally, she wed a widower looking to remarry so that the lady would take care of his kids.
Even after her marriage, Shanti never took a family picture and avoided attending all family occasions. She always felt awkward and embarrassed in front of people with her cleft deformity. Hence, she kept herself away from the flashlights.
With years Shanti had become more and more aloof. Her frustration with her own facial deformity gave way to anger. Her stepson, now grown up, realised the cause of her changed behaviour. He had always wanted to do something for his stepmom, who had looked after him since childhood. He had the determination to bring her smile back.
So, the stepson started discussing Shanti’s condition with his friends and acquaintances. They, too, thought that after facing years of frustration and self-imposed isolation over her cleft lip deformity, Shanti had become somewhat intolerant and short-tempered.
Upon researching the probable cause and treatment of her cleft challenges, he found the miracle of cleft surgery. The Education Minister of Assam (with whom he used to work during his early years) informed him about free cleft surgery being done by Mission Smile.
He didn’t waste any time and took his stepmom (Shanti) to Mission Smile’s Guwahati Comprehensive Cleft Care Centre. There, Shanti was surprised to see so many cleft children. She realised that she was not the only person with a facial deformity. Regaining confidence, she went over to her stepson and told him that she didn’t want to go back home with the same feelings of depression. Consequently, her cleft surgery was conducted. So, she travelled back, a completely different person! Shanti blessed her stepson immensely for gifting her a new lease on life. She also expressed her utmost gratitude to Mission Smile for transforming her impossible dream into reality.
At the age of 45, Shanti has received the gift of a smile and took her first family photograph ever!
With every smile delivered, we’re inching closer to making our nation cleft-free. Join us in fulfilling our target and help children and adults get rid of cleft forever. Donate to us.