When a child in a remote rural village is born with a surgically treatable condition, there are a lot of barriers that prevent them from accessing their right to healthcare. In the United States for example, a cleft lip or palate usually gets treated right
Stigma, access, and distrust of healthcare systems mean that most families don’t know about (or won’t access) the care that would enable them to live a productive life.
This is the story of Aarati, a young woman from rural Nepal who lived her entire childhood with a cleft lip and palate, and her journey getting surgery as a teenager.
When Aarati was 16 years old she was shy and introverted. She had lived her entire childhood with a cleft lip and palate that made communication difficult. She retreated into herself and spent her days with her mom and aunts helping at home.ReSurge’s local team in Nepal dedicates their lives to finding people like Aarati in rural areas who could benefit from reconstructive surgery. The surgery is always free for patients living in poverty, but it often takes months of outreach and trust-building for a patient to feel comfortable
Hemanta is an outreach coordinator with ReSurge Nepal. One day he was driving through the district of Makwanpur to check in on a previous ReSurge patient. He stopped for tea at a local shop and saw Aarati.
“Hemanta heard my voice and began asking my Mom about my condition. He invited us to the hospital for free surgery, but my Mom didn’t trust him completely. He kept in touch with us, and about a month later one of my distant uncles who works in Kathmandu told us that Hemanta contacted him and gave him a tour of the hospital. Once we knew it was for real we decided to go through with the surgery.”
Thanks to the rural outreach program of our local Nepal partners, and the support of ReSurge International donors, Aarati was finally able to get the surgery she deserved.
“Before my cleft surgery, my voice was very nasal and I was shy to talk to people. I used to have so many problems with colds and having a running nose. I was never understood. I would get so frustrated because I would have to repeat myself three times before anyone understood me. Now I only have to say things once.”
“The surgery really changed my life for the better. Today I am confident and speak my mind clearly. When I finish my studies, I hope to work with an NGO so I can help serve needy people.”
This Cleft Awareness Month we are highlighting the importance of holistic care and outreach so that cleft patients living in low-resource settings around the world can access their right to healthcare
We are committed to giving patients like Aarati who can’t afford treatment the best possible care. Make a donation to support patients like Aariti here.