The lunge gave me a different understanding of life – Survivor

A dental technician, Kaosarat Bankole, shared her experience of living with an untreated cleft palate and how things eventually got better.

Bankole, who works at the Lagos Island General Hospital, shared his experience in an interview with our correspondent.

She said: “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 a few family members. left alone, stigmatized, emotionally drained, mentally unstable, and sometimes felt worthless.

“My encounter with the charity Smile Train changed the narrative. Before that, I was always left alone for fear of being laughed at for ringing the bell. With a void on the roof of my mouth, I had trouble articulating words and so I had to deal with a lot of abuse from friends and classmates at school.

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

Since undergoing cleft palate surgery to cover the gap in the palate, Bankole said she has been undergoing speech therapy to enable her to articulate syllables and letters more clearly.

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

“I am happy to also be identified with Smile Train, an organization from which I have benefited immensely. Since my surgery and now my speech therapy, I have not paid a penny to receive this treatment.

“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 lifeline and a life changer for children with a cleft. The speech therapy sessions have helped me in a very positive way,” she added.

Bankole’s experience represents the fate of many children born with a cleft lip and/or palate.

In Nigeria, one in 700 children is born with a cleft, having difficulty breathing, eating, speaking and hearing.


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Christine E. Phillips