Hope in Nepal: A Mother and Baby’s Journey

A child born with a cleft lip in Nepal has a tough journey ahead. Difficulty breastfeeding and chronic malnutrition are immediate concerns that are only exacerbated by poverty and a global pandemic. Left untreated, a cleft can cause multiple speech, dental, and ear problems. Many women and children are shunned from their communities, and the chance at a self-sufficient life, due to the stigma of congenital conditions.

The family of Arush, a 5-month-old baby girl born with a cleft lip, knew just how difficult it would be for their firstborn daughter to live a productive life with her cleft lip in their small village. Together, they decided to risk everything and make the 12-hour journey from the Eastern low hills of Nepal to a ReSurge partner in Kathmandu for the chance at a life-changing surgery.

Every parent wants what is best for their child, and Arush’s parents were determined. They made it to the capital, right before the horrific second wave of COVID-19 surged through Nepal. But the journey didn’t end there. There was a problem.

On the day of the surgery, something wasn’t right. Even though Arush’s blood report was normal, the doctors noticed that she was beginning to run a slight fever. Concerned for her safety and the safety of the medical team, Arush was given a COVID-19 test. She was positive. Going through with the surgery would put Arush’s life in danger, and the family would have to wait for her to recover before they could proceed. All of this was happening as the entire nation started to move into a lockdown due to the alarming surge of COVID-19 cases. The family was stranded, but they were not alone.

Dr. Pramila Shakya Performs Surgery on Arush

Luckily, our surgical outreach partners in Nepal understood the predicament Arush’s family was facing. They were able to find a partner organization to house Arush and her mother while her father returned home to work to provide for the family. After six long weeks of waiting, Arush finally tested negative. Acting quickly, the doctor advocated for the 5-month-old and performed the surgery that same day. Arush’s mother was overjoyed that this long journey had finally come to an end. She and her daughter are doing well and plan to return home once the lockdown is lifted.

Arush’s journey did not begin and end with one cleft lip surgery. Every step of the way, she needed people to take care of her and advocate for her needs. Thank you to our ReSurge partners and programs for making this possible!

Many children like Arush are not able to access life-changing reconstructive surgery. We need your help now, more than ever. Click below to make a donation.