Isatu was born with a cleft lip and was mocked her entire life. While other kids could go out and play with each other or go to school, she was hiding in their tiny little kitchen and spent her days helping her mum around the house. She rarely spoke to people outside her family and practically never smiled in her life.
Then one day she heard the radio announcement that Mercy Ships is coming to town and to her delight cleft lips and palate was listed among the type of surgeries that we offer for free. She came to the screening with her dad and she was scheduled to be operated a couple of days later. In fact she was the first to receive the priceless appointment card for surgery in the Sierra Leone field service.
According to the doctor who did the surgery on her it was an "easy operation that took only about 40 minutes". She spent the night on board and from the early hours of the following day she never stopped giggling and laughing!
Her father said that she will soon enroll in an adult education class. Her brother was excited too and said "now she can make friends and find a husband" :) (getting married is extremely important for Sierra Leoneans!)
What an amazing way to start our Field Service here!!! I have tears in my eyes again as I type this story. I just cannot imagine my life in isolation; not being able to spend time with others... The fact that you cannot smile or laugh with others is breaking my heart again and again. In the Western world many kids are born with cleft lip and palate, but they are operated right after being born - problem fixed! Here people have to spend their entire life in shame and hiding.
But now Isatu can and (I think) will never stop smiling for the rest of her life! :)