Love begins with a Smile

Love begins with a Smile

Having a child born with a cleft can be so upsetting, and Saudo’s parents were no exception, who nearly throws her away days after she was born.

It was with the intervention of an Islamic scholar, who lived next door that saved the life of Saudo. Saudo had grown to live with cleft for 16 years; she suffered stigmatization from her peers and even from close relations including her siblings. It was a traumatic experience as she explained.

Saudo before cleft lip surgery - ohai africa
Saudo Before Cleft Surgery

According to her parents, they were one time informed of possible corrective surgery, but they couldn’t even make any attempt, with the assumption that it would be expensive and meant for the rich, since they were peasant farmers.

Saudo, however, did not lose hope, she believed that someday she could afford whatever it is to get the surgery done for her. She could not even go into business for fear that no one would patronize her, since everybody avoided her. Saudo however engaged herself in rearing domestic animals, selling them during festivities.

She was saving her little earnings with the hope of seeking medical attention in a near future. It was while Saudo was planning on making sales of her livestock that she got news of a free cleft surgery organized by OHAI.
Without hesitation, she rode on her uncle’s bicycle, several kilometers away to the treatment center. She arrived and received her cleft lip surgery.

Saudo immediately after cleft lip surgery - ohai africa
Saudo Immediately after Cleft Lip Surgery

Four years after, Saudo looks beautiful with cheerful smiles on her face. The surgery was carried out by Oral Health Advocacy Initiative (OHAI) who has been partnering with Smile Train since 2012. OHAI is headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria, and focused on Africa.

Saudo four years after cleft lip surgery - ohai africa
Four Years After Surgery

This day, we celebrate and share love with the over 5,000 smiles on the faces of children, women, and adults around the continent. We celebrate with our partners, donors, and volunteers for their unrelenting support and dedication that has brought smiles and hope to the lives of thousands in Africa.