There are many cleft children in need of help in India. Some 35,000 children are born with cleft lip and / or palate every year in India. Many older children and even adults never got treatment and have to live with untreated clefts. They desperately need help. India has enjoyed great economic progress, but many Indians, especially in the rural areas, continue to live in deep poverty.
Of the 1.4 billion Indians, as many as 900 million still live in poverty. Children suffer the worst, and cleft children are particularly hard hit. Their visible disfigurement and their “different” looks often leave them cast out by their communities.
Cleft children in India: Difficult lives
Even the parents often falsely believe that the cleft is a punishment for a sin. Fathers sometimes leave the families to escape what they feel is an unbearable situation. Mothers are shamed for bringing the “curse” into the family. The children are hidden out of shame and have to live lonely lives of isolation. Often, the families do not know that the cleft can be healed.
But without treatment, the children face hard lives. One in twelve cleft children in India dies before their first birthday. They die from malnutrition and neglect, or from diseases they can’t survive in their weakened state. Only long-term aid and education can change this sad situation. This in turn requires the help of many committed partners in the communities, patience and commitment.