Jemeleen’s Story: History will not Repeat Itself

Elsie held by mom

Jemeleen spent much of her young life living with an untreated bilateral cleft lip in Kenya and had to endure years of bullying and isolation. This trauma had lasting ill-effects on Jemeleen’s confidence — so much so, that even after she received a cleft surgery from a visiting cleft mission group, she was unhappy with the result and remained quiet and withdrawn.

Elsie before surgery

In 2015, Jemeleen achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a mother, but the happy occasion turned to heartache when she learned that her daughter Elsie was also born with a cleft. “It hadn’t even entered my mind that she would be born with a cleft. I was devastated that she would have to experience all of the hardships I endured.”

Luckily, the hospital’s staff was very supportive and a doctor referred Jemeleen to nearby Smile Train partner Bethany Relief and Rehabilitation International. Within three months, Elsie received her free Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery.

Elsie laughing with mom

Jemeleen was ecstatic with the quality of the surgery, “Everyone who sees Elsie is amazed by how much she has transformed — the scar is nearly invisible. This would not have happened were it not for the generosity of Smile Train’s team — thank you so much.”

Elsie smiles

Jemeleen reports that two years later, Elsie is a playful child with lots of friends. Elsie’s large personality even makes the usually-shy Jemeleen smile wide.

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