It is with mixed emotions that I write this post. It has been one year since Saline stepped off the plane at JFK with a small bundle of her belongings in her hands and hope in her eyes. She had her face covered to avoid attracting attention as she held Duncan’s hand. That day she began a journey that would change her life and that of those that know her as well.
On the one hand I am so happy and grateful that with the help of Dr. Alexander Dagum and his colleagues from Stony Brook University Children’s Hospital, Saline had the large hole in her face repaired and now has a new palate to separate her mouth from her new nose. She is less prone to infection and can speak clearly. However, perhaps as importantly, she has her self-image restored. She now walks with her head held high and a smile on her face. I’m happy that a little girl with little hope now has a chance to live a productive life with the chance to achieve her dreams and aspirations. I’m grateful that because of the help of our generous donors and supporters, she will return to a village with cleaner water to drink, solar lighting instead of darkness and expanded educational opportunities (see previous blog). I’m equally grateful for the opportunity Saline has given us back here in our village and the many lives she has affected.
However, there is also sadness in seeing her leave. After living here for a year, it will not be easy for her to go back to her village. Although we’re doing our best to look out for her, of course we’re all concerned about her future. At the same time, we are very fortunate to have Duncan and his family to watch over her, which fills us all with hope and gratitude. I’m very happy to report that funding has been secured for her to attend a private boarding school. There, she will receive regular meals, a bed to sleep on and the opportunity to receive a good education.
The challenge now is for Saline to take everything she’s learned, and been given, and harness it to make a future for herself. I know I speak for all of us when I say that we wish her all the best of luck, and that she will be in our thoughts and prayers.
Good luck Saline, we have done everything we could have done. The rest is up to you.
P.S. At SRFK, we believe that every child deserves a chance. Our moto is “one child at a time”. We are currently in contact with a number of peace corp volunteers around the globe. Depending on donations, we will begin working to help another child soon. There are over 4 million children waiting for corrective facial surgery worldwide. Although our work has just begun, we have cause for celebration – one down.
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