A Lovely Smile 70 years in the Making

17 April 2020 | Smile Train

In 1949, a baby was born with a cleft lip in rural Pakistan. Her father and other family members refused to hold her, but her mother embraced her and named her Pyari, which means “lovely.”

When Pyari was younger, her mother would stand up to anyone who mocked her or called her anything but “lovely.” She refused to stop fighting for her daughter, even when it came at the cost of her marriage. When the divorce went through, she and Pyari went to live with her family in their small desert village.

The desert village Pyari and her mother moved to

Unfortunately, little changed with the move — relatives blamed Pyari for everything that went wrong in their lives. The little girl with the untreated cleft lip looked eagerly to the other children in hopes of making a friend, but they returned her greetings with insults and kept their distance. Rejected by her family and her community, Pyari rarely left the house, never attended school, and never married.

Years later, a crisis in the family forced Pyari to leave home to survive. Without any education or skills, she thought she would find work as household help, but, no one would hire her. Undaunted, she made and sold handicrafts in the local market instead.

Pyari before cleft surgery

One day, while selling her wares, she met a family who told her one of their children was also born with a cleft, but an organisation called Smile Home Trust performed a transformational cleft surgery. Pyari was shocked — how was it possible that treatment had been available all along and no one ever told her?

Pyari allowed herself to experience a faint thrill of hope until she did some research and felt that familiar heartbreak yet again: The next surgeries were happening almost 250 miles away — a distance she could never afford to travel. Figuring she had nothing to lose, she contacted Smile Home Trust anyway. When they told her an organisation called Smile Train would provide free transportation to and from the hospital and cover the full cost of the surgery, the 70-year-old’s joy was beyond description.

When the time for surgery came, she received even more unexpected good news: Though the world was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had yet to reach her area of Pakistan and Smile Home Trust not only still felt it safe to operate, but was using the opportunity to distribute sanitary supplies and educate patients on how to proactively keep themselves and their communities safe from the virus.

Smile Train partners in Pakistan performing a cleft surgery

Pyari trembled during her pre-surgical consultation. When Smile Home Trust’s chief surgeon, Dr. Ifran Ishaq, tried to comfort her, she told him her life story so he knew everything this moment meant to her.

Pyari before and after her transformative cleft surgery

Her Smile Train-sponsored surgery went smoothly, and when Pyari saw her new smile in the mirror for the first time, she burst into happy tears and heaped blessings upon Dr. Ishaq and his team. She then kissed the surgeon’s hands and cried that now she can finally live out her life in peace.


Pyari’s transformational new smile was only possible because of the generosity of Smile Train donors. Please give now.