The cleft gave me a different understanding of life – Patient – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

Kaosarat Bankole

Dental technician Kaosarat Bankole recently told a heartbreaking story about her ordeals of living with an untreated cleft palate and how things finally got better after meeting Smile Train.

“Cleft gave me a different meaning to my life. I couldn’t speak or express myself around people other than people close to me like my sister and some family members. It made me lonely, stigmatized, emotionally drained, mentally unstable and sometimes felt worthless,” she said.

According to the 24-year-old graduate of Pogil College of Health Technology (POCHTECH) who is currently working at Lagos Island General Hospital, before her encounter with Smile Train, she always kept herself in fear of being laughed at because it sounded. With a space on the roof of her mouth, she had difficulty articulating words and thus faced a lot of abuse from friends and classmates at school.

Kaosarat’s experience represents the plight of many children born with cleft lip and/or palate conditions. In Nigeria, 1 in 700 children are born with a cleft, having difficulty breathing, eating, speaking and hearing.

Due to lack of awareness or proper education, cleft is still prevalent in Nigeria with patients hidden in the village and discriminated against. They rarely find a support system when going through life’s challenges. The consequence is a nervous breakdown and, in extreme cases, a suicidal feeling.

For Kaosarat, she drew her initial strength from her older sister, Ms. Ibrahim Bankole, and a close family friend, Ms. Obadere Fadeyi, who always supported her wherever needed.
According to her, “With these two people by my side, I always felt like a winner. They fought anyone who insulted me, even in my absence. I am indebted to them for everything they did for me. .

When meeting Smile Train, she was first told about the organization through a close family associate simply identified as Mrs. Balogun, who had also heard of her uncles who once worked at the University Hospital of Lagos State (LUTH).

Smile Train, which is the world’s largest charity for clefts, works through a partnership model by giving local medical professionals at LUTH and many other hospitals around the world funding, training and resources to treat the slot at no cost to the patient.
Since undergoing cleft palate surgery to cover the gap in the palate, Kaosarat has undergone speech therapy to enable her to articulate syllables and letters more clearly. She is now a member of Smile Train’s Sing and Smile Club, a recreational platform set up by Smile Train to help recipients socialize and regain their confidence through singing and acting.
She said: “I am also happy to be identified with an organization from which I have benefited immensely. Since my surgery and now my speech therapy, I have not paid a single naira to receive this treatment.

Adding: “Since my surgery in 2019 there have been a lot of changes in me and the way people see me. My speech is better, my confidence has improved tremendously, including my self-esteem. Smile Train is a lifesaver and fate changer for kids with a slot. The speech therapy sessions helped me in a very positive way.

Kaosarat concluded by emphasizing the need for more awareness of Smile Train’s activities in Nigeria, in order to give others the opportunity to get help in Nigeria.

“I hope my story inspires more people to get free treatment for cleft. Children deserve a chance at a good life. I feel more confident at work and in my life,” she said. declared.

In addition to providing safe, quality and timely cleft surgery, Smile Train uses a holistic approach centered on patience, providing comprehensive cleft care including nutrition, speech therapy, ENT orthodontic surgery as well as psychosocial support. The organization, which was founded in 1999, operates on a “teach a man to fish” model by investing in the training of local healthcare professionals in a variety of fields, enabling them to provide the highest standards of care. raised closer to the patient’s door.

Christine E. Phillips