Eleven-year-old Marceline is a bright girl with beautiful eyes. But to others in her village, she was an outcast and cursed because she was born with a cleft lip that left her nose, mouth and teeth disfigured.
“I just wanted to play with the other kids, but they only stared at me and laughed.”
“We did not know how to give her milk. I was worried she would die of thirst.”
“Even if I think I know the answer, I don’t raise my hand. I don’t want to be called on.”
Marceline often hid at home. When she did venture out, she was bullied. People laughed at her, called her names and would spit on her.
“They told me: ‘Don’t come around here. You are making us sick to our stomachs.’ And they hit me.”
She tried to hide her face when she was out in public. She even stopped attending school. Marceline lived as an outcast.
When Marceline and her mother heard on the radio that Operation Smile was coming to Rwanda, friends lent them the money to make the long trip.
“When my name was called for surgery, I was so excited that I was shaking,” Marceline said. In just an hour, Operation Smile’s skilled surgeons repaired her cleft lip and reshaped her nose, giving her hope for a better life. Today Marceline is in school, and she’s confident for the first time in her life.