MANILA, Philippines – Edward Pastidio, 4, can now pursue his dreams of finishing school and becoming a basketball player after his successful cleft operation.
Volunteer doctors at the Marikina St. Vincent General Hospital recently helped Pastidio regain his smile through a free cleft surgery, a project of Smile Train Philippines.
This makes him the 20,000th beneficiary of the cleft charity.
“Sa wakas, makakapasok na ako sa school (At last, I can go to school),” he said.
Since they cannot afford a cleft lip operation, Pastidio’s parents earlier had to keep the child from going to school out of fear of being the object of scorn and teasing.
His mother said that at a young age, Pastidio is already aware of his condition and understands the importance of the operation.
His doctors agreed. “Most of the children we see for cleft surgery are very quiet or shy prior to the operation. Edward is a bundle of joy,” said one of the pediatricians at the Marikina St. Vincent General Hospital.
More than the stigma attached to it, children born with unrepaired cleft lips and palates often have to endure physical difficulties and side effects such as speech and language delay, ear infections and hearing loss, and dental problems, making it hard for them to lead normal lives.
To address this, groups such as Smile Train Philippines are partnering with hospitals and surgeons to perform cleft-related surgeries in the country.
“Smile Train believes that every child born with a cleft deserves the opportunity to live a full and productive life. This global organization aims to reach poor communities and families that do not have access to medical care, and bridge the gap between the cleft child and a simple surgery that will change his life,” said Kimmy Flaviano, country manager of Smile Train Philippines.
Smile Train Philippines is the local unit of Smile Train, which claims to be the world’s largest cleft charity. In the past year alone, the group was able to successfully hold more than 5,000 surgeries.
“Our goal is to give every underprivileged Filipino child born with a cleft a brighter future,” Flaviano said.
For more information on how to avail of a free cleft surgery from Smile Train Philippines, call or send a message to 0917-52-TRAIN (0917-528-7246).