Neha: The Determined Scholar

16 August 2017 | Smile Train

Neha is a determined child who strives to be at the top of her class. Unfortunately, there were circumstances beyond her control that not only impacted her ability to thrive in school, but also made it difficult to survive past her very first day of life.

Cleft lip India

Neha was born to a poor family living in a one-room barsati (attic space) in a village near Hapur, India. Her parents were shocked to find out that their first child was born with cleft lip and also needed to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery for her intestines. While the local doctors were able to surgically correct her intestines, the family was unable to afford the cost of a cleft lip surgery.

Studying with mother

Neha’s years of living with an untreated cleft were not easy. She had difficulties eating, speaking, and making friends — she was ignored by her peers. Despite these difficulties, she worked hard in school and rarely missed a day.

Neha Smile Train

Everything changed when her father moved to the city of Delhi to look for construction work where he was introduced to Smile Train partner hospital Sant Parmanand. Soon after, Neha received her cleft lip surgery at no cost to the family. Following her surgery, she also received Smile Train sponsored speech therapy.

Neha Smile Train

Today, Neha helps take care of her siblings and has many friends who enjoy spending time with her. With her improved speech and confidence, she has risen to the very top of her class academically.

Smile Train India

While Neha’s socioeconomic status, social isolation, and health problems might have put her at an initial disadvantage to the other children her age, her determination has paid off. With a little assistance from her caring family and Smile Train, she was able to shoot straight to the top of her class. With her strength of mind, she’ll be sure to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor — she wants to help other children born with health problems.


Cleft surgery gives children living with untreated clefts the confidence to go to school, dream big, and live happy lives. Please make a donation today to help provide a child living with an untreated cleft a second chance to become top of the class.