Punam from Umarkot, Pakistan

Little Punam is not even half a year old when her family brings her to a cleft treatment mission in Umarkot. The mission is conducted by our Pakistani partners around Professor Ganatra. Prof. Ganatra leads our project in Pakistan, which is based in Karachi, the capital of the province of Sindh. In order to reach people in rural areas, he and his team regularly travel to other provinces. The mission in Umarkot is accompanied by Dr. Ulrike Lamlé. She oversees this and other of our projects on a voluntary basis and operates alongside Prof. Ganatra and his team on this mission.

A difficult start in life: Punam’s story

In the region around Umarkot, many people are of Hindu descent. Punam’s family is among them. Punam is a Hindu name meaning ‘full moon’. The girl is the youngest of seven children. A large cleft lip disfigures Punam’s face, and her palate is also affected by a cleft.

“How can I smile? We have nothing to smile about,” Punam’s mother tells us when we ask her to smile for the documentation photo ahead of her little daughter’s surgery. The family is very poor. Punam’s father works as a day laborer in cotton cultivation. The average daily wage is 200 Pakistani rupees, which is around 65 cents. The three of them traveled to Umarkot by motorbike from their home village, 60 kilometers away. The fuel cost them 1,000 rupees, the wages for five days of hard work.

Punam is very tender and weak. Feeding her is difficult because of the little girl’s cleft lip and palate. Her mother is very worried for her daughter. When the parents hear about our offer of help and free surgery, they found new hope.

But the journey was worth it. Punam receives her surgery from Prof. Ganatra on the first day of the mission. The baby recovers quickly, her parents breathe a sigh of relief. “I am happy, that my child is alive”, Punam’s mother says after the surgery, smiling.

We hope that Punam’s parents will bring her back the next time Prof. Ganatra is in Umarkot, so that Punam’s cleft palate can also be closed. This second surgery is just as important for Punam as the first one: It will help her speak

A child’s life, a mother’s happiness

Punam’s story is exemplary for many family stories in rural Pakistan. The families are very poor and suffer great material deprivation. Especially the mothers of our little patients around the world bear a great burden. Helping and supporting them is part of our work. With each surgery, we can change a child’s life – and make a mother very happy.

It always makes us happy to see the great work our local partners on the ground in Pakistan and around the world are doing, how valuable our work is for the patients and their families, what a great burden and worry we can relieve them of. This is only possible thanks to our donors. Your donations are the foundation of our help. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!