Shakera’s Journey Home to Find Smiles

Shakera with patient

Shakera Rahman, a mother-of-two living in London, recently visited Smile Train’s local partner hospital and patients in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Shakera decided to go on the trip after two close friends gave birth to children with clefts in recent years, and she now wanted the opportunity to experience the transformative Power of a Smile first-hand.

Until my friends’ children were born, I never realised that clefts could be repaired through such a quick and simple procedure. On previous visits to Bangladesh, I had seen children and adults living with untreated clefts, primarily due to a lack of access to medical care. The idea that some people have access to cleft treatment while others don’t, really made me think.

When researching the disparity of cleft treatments across the developing world, Shakera came across Smile Train’s website. Soon after, she contacted Smile Train staff to see if it would be possible to visit a Smile Train partner hospital. “I already had a holiday booked to Bangladesh to visit my family, so I decided to get in touch with Smile Train and ask if I could visit one of their hospitals,” Shakera recalled.

Shakera holds a baby

During the trip, Shakera was met by Smile Train County Manager Mostafizur Rahman, who introduced her to patients waiting for treatment at local Smile Train partner Ibn Sina Hospital. Mostafizur explained that Smile Train averages more than 4,500+ cleft surgeries a year in Bangladesh, and is working to reduce the backlog of patients who have waited years for their cleft surgeries.

Shakera journey of smiles

“Many of the families had travelled really far to ensure treatment, and Smile Train pays for their travel and stay when possible – it was wonderful to see where all the money goes,” said Shakera.

Shakera meets with medical staff

Whilst visiting the hospital, Shakera arranged for several Bangladeshi press outlets to learn more about Smile Train, as well. “It resulted in a lot of coverage and exposure for Smile Train. I thought it was important to raise awareness so that families all over Bangladesh would know that Ibn Sina Hospital and Smile Train are there if needed.”

Now that Shakera is back from her trip, she has been inspired to find additional ways to help children living with untreated clefts. Most recently, she signed up to run the 2018 London Marathon where she will raise awareness and funds for Smile Train. Every pound she raises will help provide smiles to children in the developing world.