A Midwife Saves a Life

6 February 2019 | Smile Train

Koko born with cleft in Guinea

Koko’s parents panicked when they learned that she’d been born with a cleft lip, so much so that they discussed abandoning Koko rather than facing potential isolation from their family or community.

The attending midwife, Bernadette, overheard the plans and pleaded with the couple to reconsider. Bernadette shared that Koko could thrive with cleft surgery and proper treatment. However, fearing that she hadn’t changed their minds and suspecting that Koko was still in danger, Bernadette told the parents she’d adopt Koko. 

One year later, Koko was medically cleared for her Smile Train-supported cleft surgery. On the day of the surgery, Bernadette called Koko’s biological mother and asked her to show up at the local Smile Train partner hospital — Bernadette wanted her to experience the transformative power of a smile.

Koko after cleft surgery

Koko’s mother cried when she saw her daughter and asked Bernadette and Smile Train’s local partners for forgiveness. She promised that she’d work to gain back their trust and vowed to be a part of Koko’s life moving forward.

Koko after cleft surgery


Help provide 100%-free comprehensive cleft care to a child, just like Koko, still living with an untreated cleft. Donate Now.