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14 March 2014

Branded as witches, cleft lip children now see hope in Africa.


A picture taken moments after surgeons of the Canadian NGO "Mission sourire d'Afrique" (Africa smile mission) performed a surgery on a young boy to remove his harelip on February 19, 2014 in a Ouagadougou hospital .
His entire future is at stake, said Saaba as she paced the corridor of the clinic, waiting for the operation to finish. She said she wants him to be a nurse when he grows up, like the staff at the clinic.
Until today she has been hiding her son,

"Until today she has been hiding her son," said her sister-in-law, who was also at the clinic. "I asked her why she would do that and she said she had been asked too many questions.

She was forced to hide in the bush, like an animal, and live off what she found there,
Accused of witchcraft or sorcery, children with cleft lips or palates are often driven into hiding in several African countries, forced to live as outcasts unless they receive an early operation. In the Suka clinic in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou, a volunteer recounts the story of one young mother made to flee her village after giving birth to a "cursed child".

When he was born I was so sad that I could no longer eat,
"She was forced to hide in the bush, like an animal, and live off what she found there," he said. Many parents hide such children -- fearing they will be taunted or made into pariahs -- due to the lack of available medical care.

Most families think they are cursed,
"When he was born I was so sad that I could no longer eat," said Habibatou Saaba, whose 18-month-old son Zidan was born with a cleft lip. But Zidan has been given a second chance by the doctors at the Suka clinic, who are funded by Canadian charity Mission Sourires d'Afrique (Smiles of Africa).

And to think that the problem can be fixed in 45 minutes at a cost of $250, and forever change the life of a child,
In the West, children with the condition generally receive an operation within three months of being born, but specialised care of this nature remains rare across Africa, even though the operation costs only $250 (180 euros). The clinic waiting room is a tense place, with long lines of deformed children mostly silent as they wait for their operation.
that's roughly 340 surgeries every day and 125,000 every year
"Most families think they are cursed," said Loic Koffi, a social assistant at the clinic.
... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at The Daily Nation

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