Bringing a Smile

Bringing a Smile

By: Brandy Campbell, with Tonny C. Tunya in Indonesia   |   Posted: May 16, 2008

Compassion Provides Surgery for a Child's Birth Defect
Seven-year-old Anggi's scar has faded to a faint line on his lip. When he plays outside for too long, it stands out white against his brown skin. But most of the time it is nearly invisible.

When Anggi was born, doctors warned his mother about the appearance of her son's face. A large gap stretched from Anggi's mouth to his nose, splitting the top lip. Despite the shock of seeing Anggi's malformed face, his mother carefully nurtured and protected her sickly son. Anggi couldn't drink from a bottle, so she patiently dropped milk into his mouth. When neighbors stared, she tucked him close to her body, shielding him. She would do anything for her child.

No Means for Surgery

If Anggi had been born in a developed country, he would have quickly undergone relatively simple surgeries to repair his cleft lip. But in rural Java, Indonesia, there are no state-of-the-art hospitals or surgical teams. Even if there had been, Anggi's parents earned just U.S.$1 a day. His surgeries would have cost nearly two year's wages. As Anggi grew older, his condition worsened. His speech was difficult to understand, and the cleft affected his breathing and his ability to eat. The neighbors' stares weren't as bad as the taunts. Adults wondered aloud what his parents had done to receive this punishment.

A Transformed Life

When Anggi was 4, his parents registered him at the Rahayu Student Center (IO-973), with hopes their son would receive an education and perhaps a nutritious meal there. To the parents' joy, center staff applied for a grant from Compassion's Medical Assistance Fund, which covers medical costs beyond checkups and doctors' visits. Anggi qualified, and within months of registering, he underwent the first of two surgeries needed to repair his cleft lip. The change in Anggi's life was immediate. As his lip healed, his speech improved. For the first time he could eat the vegetables and rice he was served at the student center. He gradually gained confidence, and the neighbors who once mocked him marveled at his recovery.

Confidence and a Smile

Seven-year-old Anggi's scar has faded to a faint line on his lip. When he plays outside for too long, it stands out white against his brown skin. But most of the time it is nearly invisible. Soon he will undergo his second and final surgery. Then his smile will be complete. "Nothing compares to seeing the happy face of your child as he walks with confidence, knowing that he has been taken care of by the people who love him," says Anggi's father. "I'd like to thank Anggi's sponsor for being kind to our son. I would also like to thank the Compassion staff. Their kindness knows no bound. Thank you."