Stories about children helped by CSI.
Francisco — Mexico
Francisco was born with a cleft lip and palate and subsequently was abandoned by his parents because of this ailment. He currently lives in an orphanage in Hermosillo. Francisco had an initial surgical repair for his cleft lip and palate as a younger child, but unfortunately he continued to have difficulty with speech and articulation. During an annual CSI mission to Hermosillo, a man who referred to himself as Francisco’s tutor brought him to the hospital to be evaluated by our surgical team. Francisco’s tutor, along with his friends who work at a local garage, have taken him under their wings and are trying to help him succeed in life. Francisco had his cleft palate repaired by the CSI surgical team. The procedure went well, and the surgeon was optimistic that it would help Francisco speak more clearly. For now, Francisco will receive follow-up care by the CIMA Hermosillo Hospital volunteers and staff, including speech therapy and orthodontics.
Inari — Mexico
Tiny Inari, only 3 months old, was carried into the Hermosillo CIMA Hospital screening room by her very frightened parents. Throughout the initial evaluation day, Inari’s mother clutched her baby daughter to her and tried, unsuccessfully, not to cry. Dad, ever stoic by their side, smiled grimly and nodded, but didn’t speak. After Inari’s cleft lip surgery was successfully completed she was reunited with her parents in the recovery room. As they gazed down at their sleeping baby with a newly repaired lip, their faces turned from anxious fear to joyful smiles. Their relief and joy was palpable. Inari’s father dissolved to tears as he stroked his baby girl’s head and held his wife. He thanked the surgeon again and again, who simply replied: “That’s why we do this.”
Noorjahan — Bangladesh
Noorjahan is a 22-year-old woman, the eldest of three girls in her family, living in rural Bangladesh. She was born with a severe facial cleft (split in the skin) starting in her upper lip, extending through her cheek and into an empty eye socket. Because of Noorjahan’s appearance, she and her family have been shunned by their community; she never went to school, rarely left her family’s modest home, and kept her face covered. Despite being turned away again and again by local professionals and other international teams, Noorjahan and her parents traveled to Rangpur Medical College after hearing that CSI would be there, hopeful that this time they may be offered help. Noorjahan and her family met the CSI surgical team, and after careful examination the team told her “of course, we will take care of you.” The procedure would require more time and resources than the simpler cleft lip procedures planned for the week, but Noorjahan’s situation was special. It was important that she be given the chance to lead a life her family had yet only dreamed of for he Noorjahan and her family were shocked to be finally accepted for surgery and were amazed that after just a couple of hours in the operating room her appearance had changed dramatically. Her mother promised to pray for the CSI team daily for the rest of her life. Captivated by the story, the local news team traveled to Noorjahan’s home village a couple of months later. There they found a family with renewed hope. Noorjahan had healed well and was much more engaged with her family and community. Her mother said, “They performed the surgery, and my daughter now looks so beautiful. Now three sisters enjoy their time together. She smiles a lot and is willing to meet people. What can I say … for as long as I live, I will pray to Allah five times a day for them (CSI team). This is the greatest gift that I could have received.”
Ruth — Liberia
Ruth had just begun 2nd grade when she decided she no longer wanted to go to school. Her mother told CSI doctors that this was unusual because Ruth is very smart and enjoyed learning. Ruth finally told her mother that people couldn’t understand her, saying, “You talk through your nose.” Ruth was born with a cleft palate. When she and her twin sister were born, their mother tried to find a doctor to repair Ruth’s mouth, but she couldn’t find one in Liberia who had the skill to perform such a procedure. She heard a radio ad about CSI coming to Duside Hospital, but was worried about paying for surgery. Despite working hard selling used clothes in a market, she had no extra money for a hospital stay, let alone surgery. She couldn’t believe it when she heard that the surgery was being offered free of charge. “Only God will be able to pay you people for the goodness you have brought to my daughter. I thank my God for you people.” In the recovery room, Ruth said that she couldn’t wait to go back to school.
A Mother’s Love — Mexico
A young mother arrived at CIMA Hermosillo Hospital with her 5-month-old baby, who had been born with a cleft lip and palate. She was poor and spoke no English, but was determined to get help for her daughter. The power of a mother’s love was evident. She had traveled by bus from her village, seven hours from the hospital. I asked her how she managed to get to Hermosillo without money. She told me she made bouquets, collected pots and pans, and cooked tacos to raise the funds to cover the bus ticket. Baby Camilla had surgery the next day, and her mom could hardly wait to bring her home and show her family and neighbors.
Little Sandra — Ghana
Sandra was brought to the screening by her father. They had traveled for a day and a half to get to Kumasi. The day of her scheduled surgery came, but Sandra and her father didn’t show up at the hospital. The final day of the CSI surgery schedule, Sandra and her father arrived back at the hospital. We learned through translators that he was told his daughter could not have surgery until she was registered with the hospital. A booklet of immunizations that is issued to all children at the time of birth was required. He had left it at home, so he traveled 36 hours back home to get it and 36 hours back again. Needless to say, we quickly added Sandra to the surgical schedule. We later found out that the mother didn’t come to the hospital because she was worried nothing could be done to help her baby. It is not uncommon to encounter this type of fear and hopelessness in the countries we visit. When a family is shunned by their community and told repeatedly that no one can help, it is difficult to keep trying. Sandra’s father didn’t give up, and because of his love and devotion, together with the commitment of the CSI team and our hospital partners, her life has been forever changed.
Last-Minute Surgery — Peru
A reminder of why we ask people to give so much of their time and money came to us on the last day of a Peru mission. A family arrived from a pueblo outside of Puno, Peru. They had heard by word of mouth that there was a medical team from the United States in Arequipa for the week. They feared it might be too late, but took a chance and started the journey. They were able to hitchhike through the middle of the night from their home into the city, then bought a ride in the back of a pickup truck to Arequipa. When they arrived at the hospital the CSI team was happy to add their precious child to the already full surgical schedule. Even if the days run late, our teams are willing to change yet another child’s life.