Baby Angel was born with a cleft lip and palate. At only 5 months old, life has already presented him with a host of unexpected challenges – even the most basic, instinctual activity of nursing has been next to impossible because of this deformity.
Sadly, the social stigma of a cleft lip or palate is almost worse than the physical challenges. In Honduras, where Angel lives, society does not readily accept children like him into school, particularly if his language and speech development is hindered because of his cleft conditions. Getting a job as an adult is an even slimmer possibility.
After struggling for 5 months to learn how to care for Angel, his mother heard about Austin Smiles, a MAP mission partner who was visiting the neighboring country of El Salvador to perform cleft lip and palate repairs for children, free of charge.
Angel was approved for surgery, and his mother traveled over 8 hours by bus so her child could be seen.
The surgeons skillfully repaired Angel’s cleft lip, using sutures donated by MAP. Angel’s mother told Austin Smiles that she could never repay them for the gift they had given her child. Angel will return in February to have his cleft palate corrected as well, “but leaving the hospital for discharge, Angel has a complete smile and lip,” says Ellise Perry, an Austin Smiles representative.
“This will tremendously help with his development of speech sounds, eating, and acceptance into society.”
That week, 49 other children like Angel received life-changed cleft surgeries. Each of those children received not just a new smile, but a chance at living a “normal” life as they grow and develop.