Bringing smiles: Ayesha

GSK PULSE Volunteer, Len is back working with a non-profit organization, Rotaplast, to provide pre-operative and post-operative pediatric care for cleft palate surgeries in Bangladesh.

The entire team was waiting for Ayesha to get her new smile. We met this beautiful seven-year old on February 1, the day of our screening clinic. She captured the Rotaplast team's attention with her sweet disposition and her stunning black and gold dress. Ayesha was brought to our hospital by her father.

Dad has six children, all girls. Among the indigent, rural Bangladeshi society, sons continue to live with their parents when they marry, while females move to the home of their in-laws. Parents look to provide for their sons as the sons will provide for them when they age. When it comes to their daughters, some poor and uneducated parents consider their daughters a liability since they will be moving out of the home once they marry and providing for their in-laws. The result is that daughters are sometimes not well-educated or properly nourished.

Ayesha's parents are very poor and live in a village of 250 people a four-hour bus ride from Chittagong. Ayesha's dad was gentle and his behavior showed he loved his daughter. I felt comfortable asking him to describe how he felt about having six girls and no boys. He is very proud of having a family of daughters. He and Ayesha's mother are illiterate and he wants all of his girls to be educated. Ayesha's mom is a potter and he was a rickshaw driver who saved enough money to purchase a small car which he uses as a taxi. Dad works long hours, earning around $2 a day after gasoline expenses, and the family is doing everything they can to provide and educate all of their girls.

Ayesha had her cleft lip repaired today by one of our surgeons, Fred, who is 78 years old and still donating his skills and talents on three or four medical missions each year. The photo shows the beautiful new smile Fred created for Ayesha. While Ayesha and her family no doubt have economic struggles ahead, she has the support of her wonderful parents and she goes into the future with a transformed, normal appearance.