Father of a baby with a cleft lip: I was told to give my baby the water from my late brother’s soaked clothes

Emmanuel Okeh, from Igwelede Ohangbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area in Ebonyi State, whose wife gave birth to a baby with cleft lip and palate, recounted his ordeal while seeking a solution the condition of the baby.

In an interview with Tribune Online in Abakaliki, the state capital, he revealed how he was advised to soak his late brother’s clothes and feed the baby with water for three days so that she be healed.

The 28-year-old who is a driver said he did not obey the instruction but decided to take the baby to hospital for plastic surgery which he said was successful.

He noted that he was very happy that his daughter is now like every other normal child in the world after the operation and thanked God for the success of the operation.

He said: “When I heard that my wife had given birth I was very happy so I rushed to the hospital with joy in my heart. But when I saw my baby, I was shocked, I started wondering how my wife gave birth to such a baby.

“I then thought it might be my sin, but a nurse came to me and said it was not my sin, but a problem. I asked him what could be the cause. She told me it was the medicine my wife took while she was pregnant, but she couldn’t explain further. After a while, I thanked God for the successful delivery.

“That’s when we were directed to Nenwi Teaching Hospital in Anambra State where they could explain very well what we should do.

“I am a simple person, when people came to see my wife, they were introduced to the baby like this and they started giving me advice on what to do. In fact, some told me that it was my late brother who had an accident and died who came back with scars.

“I disagreed with them because I didn’t offend my late brother and if it’s a reality that he can come back to life he’s supposed to come in a way that if I see, I will be happy and not sad and be asking questions to God.

“Some also advised to go get my late brother’s clothes and start using them to make my daughter’s lips meet, but I refused.

“They said I’m stubborn and I don’t have faith, but I told them I’ll only have faith in what will work.

“Some of my friends were telling me the baby wasn’t mine that my baby had been changed in the hospital but I refused to believe it.


“Some people asked me if it was me impregnating my wife and I said yes.

“Some said my wife was possessed but I didn’t listen to them because I know my wife.

“I called my mother and explained everything to her, so she told me to bring the child to the village. When my mother insisted that I take the baby home and I refused, she came by herself and took us home.

“I thank God that my mother and my in-laws are Christians. They didn’t say what they had in mind. Rather, they were looking for a solution.

“Some people whose children had such cases referred us to AE-FUTHA. The doctor assured us that the plastic surgery will be done for free with the support of SMILETRAIN but we would have to come and go.

“After all that has been said and done, the operation was successful and my baby is now normal.

“My God reward SMILETRAIN for putting smiles on our faces. This state of health of my baby had weakened me physically, financially and mentally. I no longer go to work to avoid my wife thinking. It is not what my wife looked like before she gave birth to our daughter, but I thank God who wiped away our tears.

“When I told some of them that my baby was going to have plastic surgery, they said that I was stubborn and hadn’t listened to their advice to go to the village and bring what that my late brother used and soak it in water and give my baby two days three days the cleft lip will close.

“After the operation I told them that my daughter’s operation was successful and she is fine now, some of them were shocked saying that was not true while others said they would believe me when they saw my daughter; while some thanked God with me.

Mr. Emmanuel, however, thanked Smile Train, a non-governmental organization, for providing and financing the operation.

Christine E. Phillips