Mending Smiles and Hearts in Liberia

January 4, 2018 • Liberia
Frances Nepahn
Six-year-old Frances Nepahn was a cleft lip patient treated by the Samaritan's Purse medical team at ELWA Hospital in Liberia.

The Samaritan’s Purse Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Project restored hope and changed the lives of families in West Africa.

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John Wreh was born with a cleft lip and almost did not survive. The problem was not physical though—fear and ignorance nearly placed John in an early grave. His community in Liberia almost buried him alive because a cleft lip was believed to be a sign of witchcraft.

Our medical teams meet with and pray for cleft lip patients before their surgery.

Our medical teams meet with and pray for cleft lip patients before surgery.

He was not killed but he did endure the pain of rejection. Everyone in John’s village laughed at him, and he didn’t have any friends.

John couldn’t afford to pay for a relatively simple surgical procedure to mend his cleft lip.

At age 51, however, John’s life was changed through the Samaritan’s Purse Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Project.

“God is wonderful!” he shouted when he saw his face after surgery.

John was one of 50 patients who had surgery during the weeklong project in December at ELWA Hospital.

John was grateful for his life-changing surgery.

John was grateful for his life-changing surgery.

Samaritan’s Purse sent a volunteer medical team to perform the surgery for qualifying patients at no charge.

Many patients like John had endured a life of judgment due to their appearance. Our medical team treated one child who was called “Twisted Face.”

Sometimes children in Liberia who are born with a cleft lip are not enrolled in school because their parents fear their classmates will make fun of them. Sometimes these children are abandoned by their parents.

Cleft lip patients expressed their gratitude to Samaritan’s Purse for providing the life-changing surgery. Over and over John thanked the medical team for an incredible gift.

“I’m more than happy…I’m in heaven,” he said.

An Unexpected Blessing

Bernice and Vivian before Vivian’s surgery at ELWA. When Bernice Twalla came to ELWA Hospital to be treated for malaria she had no idea that our cleft lip campaign was underway.

She came to ELWA with her 3-month-old daughter Vivian who was born with a cleft lip.

Bernice and Vivian before Vivian's surgery at ELWA.

Bernice and Vivian before Vivian’s surgery at ELWA.

Our staff met Bernice and Vivian, and not long after they arrived at ELWA, Vivian was in surgery to mend her cleft lip.

Bernice and her husband had always wanted their daughter to have the surgery but they couldn’t afford it. Bernice called her husband from the hospital, and he could hardly believe the good news.

“In a split second, I found what I was praying for,” Bernice said.

Bernice said she felt like God was directing her steps to ELWA.

“I was supposed to go to a different hospital but the driver brought me here,” she said. “I feel healed already. I’m happy because today, unexpectedly, my daughter is healed. By God’s grace she is blessed.”

Healing for Ebola Survivor

Bernice also experienced God’s power when He healed her from Ebola a few years ago. Her husband contracted the virus and it eventually killed him, as well as six of his family members.

Bernice and her sister, who also contracted Ebola, fought for their lives in an Ebola Treatment Unit. They lived day-to-day with the threat of death.

Bernice and Vivian

Bernice was filled with joy at her daughter’s healing.

Remarkably, Bernice was able to help save her sister (and herself) because of her healthcare background. She served as caregiver, even making sure the IV drips were managed properly.

The trauma of living through Ebola and the death of her husband were almost too much to bear. Yet, Bernice didn’t give up. She moved in with her sister and began attending church. Bernice heard the Gospel and gave her life to Jesus Christ.

Bernice is now remarried and her daughter Vivian has a beautiful new smile.

The Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Project brought smiles to many parents and children, as well as older adults. The week was one of redemption, joy, and celebration.

Patients told us, “I will go back to the community and say, ‘Come and see what the Lord has done!’”

SUPPORT
Samaritan’s Purse sends specialized teams to places such as South Sudan and Bolivia to provide outpatient surgery for hundreds of patients. Your gift of $250 will enable us to cover the cost of this life-changing procedure so we can show these boys and girls how precious they are in the eyes of God.
Mend a Cleft Lip Samaritan’s Purse sends specialized teams to places such as South Sudan and Bolivia to provide outpatient surgery for hundreds of patients. Your gift of $250 will enable us to cover the cost of this life-changing procedure so we can show these boys and girls how precious they are in the eyes of God.

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