Cleft Lip Patient Stories from Guatemala 2009 Mission

Josue Arnoldo Cifuentes Pop, age 3 in 2009

On the day of Josue’s birth, his mother anxiously awaited his arrival.  This would be her first child.  As the doctor handed her baby boy to her, she was terrified by what she saw.  Josue was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.  Mr. and Mrs. Pop had never seen anything like this.  The doctor informed Mrs. Pop that this was her child and that she should kiss him.  His mom said, “The first thought that went through my head was, ‘How will my child eat?’

She knew that she loved her child, but she wanted to disappear.  She was mad at God and blamed him for her first born child’s deformity.  She asked him why He would do this to her child and why it had to happen to her.

Josue’s grandmother offered comfort to her daughter by saying that Josue was a creature of God and that only He knew why Josue was sent this way.  She continued by saying that Josue needed a mother and that Mrs. Pop could not leave him.  If she left, he would wonder later in life why his mother had left him.

Josue’s mom was promised while in the hospital that this type of deformity could be fixed with surgery.  She returned to the local hospital to inquire about the surgery, but was turned away because the doctors were on strike.  Losing hope, Mrs. Pop decided to speak with a social worker who referred her to the Pediatric Foundation.   She was informed that a group by the name of Hirsche Smiles Foundation (HSF) would be coming to Guatemala City and they would be able to fix her child’s facial deformity.  In 2007, when Josue was four months old, Dr. Siddiqi, a surgeon with the HSF team performed the surgery that changed the lives of both Josue and his family. Now, he is a happy little kid with a beautiful smile.

Nadesha Cos Lopez, 15 months

When Mrs. Cos saw Nadesha for the first time her heart broke.  She became very sad.  Nadesha had been born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate.  She went to her mother for comfort.  Her mom told her that Nadesha was born that way because she had done something wrong.  “You must have not wanted the baby, that is why she was born that way,” or “You probably were drinking when you were pregnant,” she was told.  Mrs. Cos felt hopeless to hear her mother speak this way.  Mr. Lopez, Mrs. Cos’s husbsand comforted her by saying that God would find a way for their child to be helped.  They started by making appointment after appointment with the doctors at the hospital but every time they arrived they were told that the doctor was not available to see them or that he was not there.  Then they were referred by Naomi and Hugo, friends of theirs to see if the Pediatric Foundation could help them.  In May of 2009, Nadesha was seen in a clinic by the Hirsche Smile Foundation and a few days later she was in surgery having her lip repaired.  When she was handed to her mom after surgery, her mom was surprised about the change that had just taken place.  “It was as if from one day to the next my child was a different child!” she excitedly expressed.  Nadesha just completed her cleft palate repair this year with HSF for which her mother is very grateful.  It has changed her life.  It has changed her family’s life.  Nadesha’s grandmother now understands that this condition was not caused by her mother’s decisions but rather by some unknown cause.