If someone had told 24 year old Herve two years prior that he’d be married, free of the burdens of his cleft condition, he may not have believed it. But now, after receiving life-changing surgery from Operation Smile, Herve’s life has been irrevocably changed for the better.
When Herve was born, his family was given no explanation about his cleft condition. Many in his community had never seen anyone with a cleft lip before. The lack of access to information about the potential causes of cleft conditions resulted in Herve being ostracized and bullied by his peers throughout his childhood.
Herve wasn’t aware that a solution existed, let alone that it could be provided to him for free by a team of highly trained medical volunteers.
Life continued to become more difficult for Herve as he got older. He eventually got married, but unable to move past the reality being married to someone with an untreated cleft condition, Herve’s wife eventually left him.
Cemented to the hope that he would one day find someone who loved him unconditionally, Herve threw himself into his job, working long hours farming rice and cassava fields. The person who remained by his side through these challenging years was his good friend Christine. She was there for him as he dealt with his separation from his wife and coped with the isolation that one with a cleft condition often faces. Over the months, Herve grew to love his friend.
Christine was even by his side on the monumental day when Herve met Fidelis.
Fidelis, whose son was born with a cleft condition, was a patient advocate, volunteering to raise awareness of parents like him about the organization that had made life-changing surgery possible for his son.
As a patient advocate, Fidelis shares his story to all who will listen as he travels to remote communities across Madagascar. By detailing the transformation of his own son’s smile and the free surgical care his family received from volunteers, Fidelis hopes his efforts will one day lead to Operation Smile Madagascar treating every patient living with a cleft condition in the country.
While there are many children who still need surgery, Fidelis knows that his efforts made an extraordinary impact on the lives of many families during a surgical program in 2018.
For Herve, he discovered a new self-confidence after surgery and found the courage to tell Christine he loved her. He couldn’t contain his smile when she said she loved him too.