Johana's Head of the Class

2 December 2019 | Smile Train

Likanto was heartbroken when her sixth child, Johana, was born with a cleft lip. Likanto had never seen a baby with a cleft before in her small village in southern Kenya and was concerned for his future.

When the time came and Johana was old enough to go to school, he was excited. However, his excitement quickly turned to sadness. The other children teased him and called him awful names because of his untreated cleft lip. The constant teasing at school led Johana to begin covering his mouth whenever he was out in public.

Johana before his surgery.

Johana became increasingly shy. He always sat alone and never participated in class or talked to his classmates. His silence made his teachers incorrectly think that he had a learning disability.

Johana with his family before his surgery.

It pained Likanto to see her son so miserable.

Then one day Johana’s family heard from a Community Health Worker that Smile Train supported free surgeries and related treatment for children with clefts.

Johana smiling after his surgery.

Likanto immediately brought Johana to the nearby Smile Train local partner hospital. Johana was scheduled for surgery, and once his cleft lip was successfully repaired, Johana could not contain his joy.

Johana at his desk at school.

Johana standing in the center of his peers holding his before picture.

With newfound confidence, Johana’s energy and smarts have made him the star of his village and his school. He was recently ranked among the best students in his class and even elected class president by his peers.

Johana with his family.


Help us unleash the potential of more children like Johana by making a gift to Smile Train today.