Simrik’s Future is Bright as Her Smile

For this girl of the Himalayas, no goal is too lofty
Simrik holding a picture of herself before cleft surgery

Sharmila and Shyam walked into their ultrasound appointment thinking they knew just what to expect. They had done this before. But the image on the screen was beyond anything they ever could have imagined. Baby Simrik would have a cleft.

The couple was at a loss. So many questions bubbled up. Could they treat it while she was still in the womb?

“No, but don’t worry,” their doctor said. If Simrik stays healthy, she can have surgery to heal it at just three months old.

To Shyam, this news came as a blessing and a curse. A blessing because his child could be healed; a curse because, as a school bus driver and his family’s sole breadwinner, he didn’t know how he could ever afford a surgery, especially not with an older child to support, too. Already living hand-to-mouth, he and Sharmila sucked in their breath and looked to find even more ways to scrimp and save every cent. Shayam also began to inquire into loans; many were at predatory interest rates, but he considered years of crushing debt a small price to pay for his daughter’s future.

But before he did anything drastic, he knew he needed to call two old friends: Drs Dil Sobha and Om Krishna, who also happened to be surgeons at Smile Train partner B and B Hospital in Kathmandu.

The doctors walked the family through all of the different procedures Simrik would need through the years to heal her cleft. And then they told him to relax. Thanks to Smile Train’s generous donors, all this care would be completely free for as long as his daughter needed it.

At last, Sharmila and Shyam could breathe.

Simrik before cleft surgery
Simrik before cleft surgery

When Simrik was born, her parents were ready. Three months later, they walked into B and B early in the morning expecting to walk out again with a baby reborn and ready to face the world with a confident, healthy smile. And that is exactly what they got. The whole thing was over before 11 AM.

The days that followed were harder for Sharmila than the three months that preceded them. Simrik’s cheek was sensitive after surgery, and she wailed when anyone so much as grazed it. It made Sharmila cry, too.

Simrik raising her braids like Pippi Longstocking
Now, even Simirk’s hair is smiling!

Now 10, Simirk loves science, skipping, and Skyping her two best friends the second they all get home from school. She thinks her future looks as bright as her smile, and no one who knows her could disagree.

Simrik smiling with her parents
Sharmila, Simrik, and Shyam

“My child should grow up to fulfill her every wish,” said Shyam. “I’ve referred Smile Train and B and B Hospital to everyone I know. I am really grateful for my child’s transformation, and I only wish I could visit the donors who have made it possible.”

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