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Karli’s story starts in 2003, 11 years before she was born.

Karli’s story starts in 2003, 11 years before she was born.

That was when Anerie and Willie met, Karli’s parents. They immediately fell in love. They knew from the start that they were soul mates and by 2005, they were engaged.

Anerie fell pregnant for the first time in 2007. Their twins were born premature at 26 weeks, on the 8th of July. Their son Marchant weighed 700g and their daughter Carlea, only 500g. Sadly, they were too small forthis big world and they passed away 2 days later.

Anerie and Willie were married in December 2008 and shortly after were excited to announce their pregnancy. Dianca (now 5) was born at 34 weeks, weighing 2.095kg. She spent 6 weeks in NICU and finally came home on the day she was supposed to have been born.

When Dianca was about 2 years old, Anerie and Willie planned for their second child. However, after 6 miscarriages, the last as a result of an armed house robbery (December 2012), they made peace with the fact that maybe they were destined to have only one child, their little girl whom they loved and adored so much.

You can imagine their overwhelming joy, when in August 2013 they we were pregnant again. They took every precaution and nothing for granted. Anerie resigned from a secure place of employment for fear that the traveling (200km a day) would not be good for baby. They knew that times were going to be tough with just one salary, but they made a decision to adjust and make due.

Anerie sought advice throughout the pregnancy and diligently took vitamins and hormones as prescribed by her doctor and when the 12 week mark was achieved, they felt they could share their good news.

Then the first blow arrived- there was no medical aid. Anerie’s previous employment had canceled her medical aid and no other medical aid scheme’s would accept her without first waiting out the mandatory periods. They kept their chins up and heads high and vigilantly saved every cent in order to pay for private consultations and scans.

As the due date was getting closer Anerie and Willie began applying for personal loans in order secure delivery in a private hospital. They so desperately wanted to give this baby every chance at a healthy birth, but alas, to no avail. They were turned down everywhere.

One afternoon, a man arrived at their house and drove off with Willie’s prized possession, his motorbike. The motorbike was left to him by a close friend who had passed away 2 years earlier. With a very brave smile, Willie announced that now they would now have the money to pay for the private delivery.

It was the 4th of April 2014, and Willie and Anerie had arrived at the hospital. Anerie was prepped for surgery and wheeled into theater. It felt like a dream come true, they were finally going to meet their baby and they could not wait. They named her Karli, which means little champion.

After baby Karli was delivered and the doctor casually paused, and said, "Baby has a small cleft... Nê?"And then, there it was, the second blow.

Anerie turned to Willie to ask if she had heard correctly. Willie nodded. He went to see Karli and came back shaking. He tried to sound calm as he repeated, "It’s just her lip, it’s not that bad. She is beautiful!"

Anerie immediately thought that she given her husband a "broken" baby.

The next 40 minutes were a blur, Anerie was in the recovery room, her blood pressure increased and she could not see her baby, as Karli was taken away. Karli had difficulty regulating her body temperature and her saturations were low. It was almost 12 hours later, when the nurse snuck Anerie in, for her to see her baby girl. The next day Karli was transferred to NICU where she was to spend the next 3 days.

Having exhausted all funds on post-operative care, Anerie and Willie were determined to not give up. They spent hours researching and understanding what a cleft lip and/ or cleft palate entailed. They leant how to feed baby Karli and to care for her. Their search proved most fruitful when they came across Operation Smile. By the time Karli was 19 days old, Anerie had made contact with Operation Smile and placed her on a waiting list.

On September 13th 2014, Karli received her surgery. Aside from giving baby Karli a new smile- her whole family found reason to smile!

Anerie says, “We have not had it easy the past couple of years, but we made it. And finally, things are looking up. We are not lucky, we are blessed”.



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