Transforming Lives Through Cleft Lip Surgery

March 24, 2015 • South Sudan

Cleft lip and palate surgeries in South Sudan are restoring health and hope to people who have been excluded from society

As 8-year-old Kua plays soccer with his many friends, no one would ever guess that just two years ago he was sickly and unpopular.

Born with a cleft lip, Kua often suffered from sinus problems and other infections. His peers were frightened by his appearance and did not want to play with him or eat with him.

South Sudan Cleft Lip Surgery 2014

Kua is now free to play the game he loves.

All that changed when a volunteer medical team assembled by Samaritan’s Purse surgically repaired his lip in Juba, South’s Sudan’s capital, in 2013.

“Before the surgery, his friends feared him,” said Sarah, Kua’s mother. “Now they like him. They play with him.”

Kua’s smile now beams like the African sun.

“I’m happy,” he said. “That’s why I’m smiling.”

His story represents one among a total of 261 cleft lip surgeries that have been performed by Samaritan’s Purse teams in South Sudan since 2011. Our first two cleft palate procedures were performed last year. Not only do the free-of-charge operations improve patients’ health, they open up new opportunities for them in society.

South Sudan cleft lip

Alrashid’s health and outlook have improved following his surgery.

In South Sudanese culture, a baby born with a cleft lip is often seen as an evil omen, a frightening sign of divine or demonic punishment. When patients arrive at the hospital, they share similar stories of shame, embarrassment, and ostracism. Many are named Machiek, meaning “deformed.” Older adults tell of being shunned for decades. The mothers who bring infants speak of abuse aimed at them—“How could you give birth to such an ugly child?”

South Sudan Cleft Lip Surgery 2014

Nurse Shannon Kyle cares for a cleft lip patient in Juba last November.

But, after surgery, the boys, girls, men, and women who’ve been given new smiles return home with a brighter future. They are integrated into society—filled with hope for new relationships, new educational opportunities, and more.

They are even given new biblical names—such as Daniel, John, and Mary—to replace the shame their old names often imply.

“They get to go home to their village, and they can show their face without shame,” said pediatric ICU nurse Shannon Kyle, who has participated in the program for three years. “They don’t have to hide in their tent or their hut.”

Hawa’s son Alrashid is another of the hundreds of patients who have been helped by Samaritan’s Purse. As any mother would be, she’s overjoyed by the results she’s witnessed.

South Sudan cleft lip

“I think he has a brighter future,” said Sarah, Kua’s mother.

“My son is now OK. He goes to school; he plays with friends,” she said. “Before the surgery he used to become sick. Now there are no more fevers.”

During the first week of May 2015, dozens more patients will receive this life-changing reconstructive surgery in Juba.

To find out more about our cleft lip and palate surgery program, including the role Mission Aviation Services plays in transporting patients, read and enjoy the photo essay and articles below.

HEALTH & MEDICAL MINISTRIES

Something to Smile About

See the change. View a photo essay on our cleft lip project.

HEALTH & MEDICAL MINISTRIES

More Than a Smile

The latest round of surgeries gave hope and health to more than 50 patients. Read a report from our November 2014 round of surgeries.

HEALTH & MEDICAL MINISTRIES

A Week of Hope and Healing

Cleft lip patients must overcome cultural barriers to reach out for needed help. Read a blog from our November 2014 round of surgeries.

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.

Cleft Lip/Palate Surgery 013979
Suggested Gift: $250 | Share the Cost $25
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