Local Smile Train staff members in Brazil were approached by Rosana Souza during her daughter Maria’s cleft surgery follow-up appointment. Rosana’s eyes filled with tears as she spoke about the drastic improvement in her Maria’s health since her Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery. In her own words, Rosana shares her story of the long road to giving Maria her beautiful new smile.
It came as a total shock when Rosana Souza and her boyfriend were told that their first child was born with a cleft lip. The doctors in the Brazilian border town of Tabatinga told the young couple that their daughter’s cleft could be surgically repaired, but this assurance did not stop Rosana’s boyfriend from abandoning his daughter.
When the doctors asked Rosana for her daughter’s name, she decided on calling her Maria, after her own mother. “My baby would need strength to survive, so I named her after the strongest person I know,” she said.
Maria’s grandmother set aside space in her living room for a crib and welcomed Rosana and Maria to live at her home. They quickly saw that Maria would choke and struggle to breathe every time they fed her. Watching Maria struggle broke their hearts and so they vowed to find a way to help her.
Rosana and her mother traveled to hospitals near their home to find help for Maria. They were met with rejection everywhere they went, as they discovered the cost for surgery at these hospitals was far more than what they earned in a year. Devastated, Rosana and her mother returned home with little hope of ever helping Maria.
Everything changed when Rosana found out about Smile Train’s 100%-free cleft surgery programs from her cousin. Rosana’s cousin let the family know that Maria could receive the free surgery at Smile Train’s local partner hospital in Benjamin Constant. “We were optimistic, but we had been let down so many times. Smile Train’s program seemed too good to be true,” said Maria’s grandmother. Yet, without hesitation, Maria’s grandmother and mother quickly made arrangements to bring Maria to the hospital in Benjamin Constant.
When Maria came out of surgery Rosana exclaimed, “I am so happy that Maria will be able to eat and breathe like every other child. Maria is so beautiful and now she is going to be able to do anything she wants with her life!”
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