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In Malawi, a Second Chance at a New Life

Christina anxiously waited, cradling her son Chisomo outside the Chinsapo Secondary School, in Lilongwe, Malawi. Christina and her husband, Viktor, hope that this could be their son’s second chance at a new life.

About a year ago, when Chisomo was only 2 weeks old, Christina and Viktor brought their son to Kamuzu Central Hospital, hoping Operation Smile could help their tiny infant during that surgical mission.

But Chisomo was visibly malnourished – his cleft lip and cleft palate made feeding him difficult, and he was not getting the nutrients necessary for healthy babies. Doctors had no choice but to turn Chisomo away from surgery that day. He was too young and too malnourished to receive safe surgery.

Instead of sending the family home defeated, the volunteer medical team left with Christina and Viktor with renewed hope. Speech pathologists and nurses helped educate the new parents on nutrition to ensure their son would be healthy enough for surgery at the next Operation Smile surgical mission less than a year away. A local teacher, Tracy Elliott, helped monitor Chisomo’s progress through the next year until Operation Smile returned.

Viktor and Christina grew more and more hopeful as they saw their son gain healthy weight. They continued to work with Tracy until Operation Smile returned.

Here again at their second attempt to get their son the help he needs, Viktor and Christina stood among a crowd of other families at the Kamuzu Central Hospital. The sun beamed off the faces of hundreds of children and their families as they huddled together to hear whose name would be called for surgery. As with every parent there, Viktor and Christina eagerly waited for a medical volunteer to call out their son’s name.

Moments later, they heard Chisomo’s name and the two rejoiced. This is the moment they have been waiting for since the day Chisomo was born. He was scheduled for surgery the very next day and was on his way to the start of a new life.

Through a translator, Viktor and Christina said they were forever grateful to Operation Smile not only for the life-chaning surgery, but foremost for the continued help to nourish Chisomo when he was just 2 weeks old.



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