Niger (CURE/MNN) — A "first" often marks a rite of passage.
A first tooth, first step, and first night the baby sleeps all night. People mark the first haircut, the first day
of school, first car, and nearly any other memorable moment in life involving a "first."
Each marks independence, growth, accomplishment and excitement. CURE
International is getting ready for a whole series of "firsts" in Niger.
The CURE hospital is getting ready to mark the one-year anniversary of its
grand opening, October 2010. At the time
the facility was nearing completion, Niger faced devastating flooding that
displaced 200,000. It didn't stop the
launch, but the crisis hit the general health of the population and further
destabilized the infrastructure.
Overcoming that challenge, the CURE Niger team continues to experience many
firsts. During the inaugural year of operation,
the hospital was thrilled to receive a visit from a cleft lip and palate
This team was led by Dr. Byron Henry through a partnership with the
organization Free to Smile.
During their time at the hospital, the team of eight medical professionals was
able to treat and heal 30 children with cleft lip and cleft palate.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects in which the upper lip and roof
of the mouth do not fuse, leaving a gap. Children with these defects often have difficulty eating,
speaking, and even smiling, making the need for surgery essential.
Dr. Roark, CURE Niger's medical director said, "Dr. Byron Henry proved to be
a gifted leader, organizer, and surgeon. The Free To Smile team was also very
dedicated to building longer-term relations, both with our Nigerien hospital
staff and workers, as well as with the local surgeons with whom they were
working, training, teaching, and exchanging ideas."
CURE's focus is transformation. And healing a child changes a family. At
CURE, parents of children with disabilities, who are burdened with feelings of
guilt and shame, find healing and hope through God's love.
While the hospital staff was encouraged by the visit from Free to Smile, it
was really the children who marked the "first."
They say a picture is worth a
thousand words, and the children were finally able to experience a major one of
their own: their first smile.