More than giving a physical transformation, former Miss Universe Catriona Gray believes that a cleft lip surgery can change a person’s whole perspective in life.
Gray, a global ambassador of the cleft charity organization Smile Train, spoke about the positive result of a surgery on an African child, as per her Instagram page yesterday, Oct. 12. She showed photos of a young mother, Anastasia, and her baby, Gracie, whom Gray lovingly carried and described as a “beautiful little girl.”
“When people think of cleft treatment, one may think of just the physical transformation for a single child. But Anastasia and Gracie’s story opened our eyes to see that it is so much more than a change on the surface,” Gray said.
Anastasia is a young mother who faced social stigma when she become a mom to Gracie.
“She shared how her peers would discourage her and even tell her to give her daughter up. But she shared that she ‘always looked at the her daughter with love,’” Gray narrated.
Anastasia relocated to the place of her great-grandmother where people are more supportive and caring, such as church members and neighbors.
“And a few months later, Anastasia learnt of @smiletrainafrica. (I share this because it’s important too to shed light on the reality that the child as well as the family has to navigate [a lot] of social stigma, which can negatively effect their emotional and mental wellbeing),” she said.
Now, Gracie has received her cleft lip surgery, and is just awaiting her cleft palate surgery. Gray believes that Gracie is “well on her way to developing into a capable little girl with a life of opportunity ahead of her.”
“She’s even going to school! A reality that many children with cleft are unable to realize,” Gray stressed.
Treating one child’s cleft doesn’t just transform that one life of the child, Gray believes, because it also transforms the lives of the parents, the family and the community.
“Anastasia and Gracie’s story is one of overcoming. Overcoming stigma, judgement and negativity,” said the beauty queen. “But it’s also a story about how lives are changed by the people who are in it.”
Gray is appealing to those who know kids and individuals with untreated cleft lip or palate to refer them to Smile Train Africa’s website and social media pages, Smile Train Africa and Smile Train via Instagram. JB