Dinesh was born with a severe cleft lip and palate to parents Mani and Sumathi, who lived on the outskirts of Chennai, India. Regrettably, Mani reacted to the clefts poorly; he told his wife that they should abandon their child because he feared that the family would be ostracised from their community. Sumathi made it clear that she would love and support their son no matter what, despite Mani’s persistence on the issue.
Sumathi spent the next several months looking for a hospital that could help her son. When she entered Smile Train’s local partner, Sri Ramchandra Medical College and Research Institute (SRMC), she was expecting to hear more of the same bad news—that the price of treatment would be far more than the family could afford. Instead, SRMC surgeon Dr Jyotsna Murthy explained that Dinesh would receive cleft lip and palate surgeries, speech therapy, and orthodontics free of cost through Smile Train. Sumathi’s prayers had been answered.
By the time Dinesh started school, he’d received his cleft surgeries but still needed several years of speech treatment to speak properly. Unfortunately, Dinesh was bullied by some of his classmates when he’d struggle to speak in the classroom. The bullying certainly upset Dinesh, but he said that it also inspired him. He studied harder than everyone else and outperformed his tormentors on every test.
In secondary school, Dinesh had finished his speech treatment and spoke with confidence in the classroom. Thanks to his strong work ethic and study habits, he finished high school at the top of his class and scored in the 94th percentile in India’s standardised exams.
Today, Dinesh is a flourishing student at one of the best engineering universities in India, and both he and his mother are grateful for everyone who helped get him there. “Thank you, Smile Train and SRMC for making our dreams become a reality,” said Sumathi. Dinesh followed with, “Children born with clefts need to dream big; there is nothing you can’t do with hard work and determination.”
If you would like to help us provide forever smiles and second chances at life to children like Dinesh and mothers like Sumathi, please make a gift today.