Betty Brima & Lamine Sesay
In January, 2019,when a team of reconstructive plastic surgeons from the Paris-based organization Doctors of the World (MDM) (www.doctorsoftheworld.org) visited the Seventh Day Adventist hospital in Masanaga, Sierra Leone.
Betty Brima, age four, and Lamine Sesay, age 20, had their cleft lips repaired. Lamine’s palate is also cleft, however this will have to be repaired at a later date, after the lip has healed and the surgeons return.
Though not a life-threatening condition, having an untreated cleft lip and palate affects a person’s speech, social life and status.
Also, in Sierra Leone this still sometimes believed to have been caused by a devil who wants the baby’s life and who will cause misfortune to the whole village if the child is not left out in the bush for the devil to take. A similar belief is that God made a mistake, and if the baby is left in the bush, God will take him or her away and the child will be returned without the deformity when the mother gives birth again.
So, when a mother comes to us with a baby with a cleft, one can assume that she is a very courageous person, possibly defying the wishes of the elders of her family and village.