Rolland and Adeline are proud parents to nine beautiful children. Their youngest two, daughter Lanto, and son, Rindra, were both born with cleft conditions. In Madagascar, many families have never seen a cleft before, so it’s a condition often greeted with fear and superstition in some rural communities.
However, the news of Lanto and Rindra’s cleft wasn’t much of a shock for Rolland and Adeline because Rolland’s cousin – a man in his fifties – had lived his entire adult life with an untreated cleft.
Although seeing a relative with a cleft meant the family weren’t fearful of the condition, they knew the negative impact an untreated cleft can have on a person’s health, and their life. As any loving parent would, Rolland and Adeline wanted a better future for their children.
Rolland heard an advert on the radio about an Operation Smile surgical programme in Antsirabe, Madagascar. Finding out that Rindra and Lanto could have the cleft surgery they needed, for free, was a dream come true for the family. Unlike here in the UK, health services aren’t free in many parts of the world, and the costs of treatment – or even travelling to reach medical facilities – are out of reach for most families.
It was a four-hour walk for Rolland to reach the hospital to register Lanto and Rindra with Operation Smile. Rolland was put in touch with Mr Dadafara, a Patient Advocate, whose job it is to liaise with families during the process and allay any fears or questions they may have along the way. Mr Dadafara also told Rolland when and where to catch the free bus that would transport them to the surgical programme site.
When Rolland and his children arrived at the patient village, they were surprised to see so many other families in the same position. After a thorough medical evaluation by medical volunteers, Lanto was found to be fit enough for surgery, and later got the new smile her parents had dreamed of for her. But, for younger brother Rindra, the journey to a new smile would take a little longer.
Rindra was underweight due to problems feeding, and also suffering from a respiratory infection, both common problems for children with cleft conditions. Thankfully, he was referred to Operation Smile’s nutrition programme, which will provide ongoing support for the family through workshops, advice and nutrition supplements, until Rindra is strong enough to get a brand-new smile like his big sister.
About Operation Smile
Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for children with cleft conditions worldwide. For more information about our work or to find out how you can help, visit www.operationsmile.org.uk .
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