Sania was one of 122 people operated on during the NCF camp held in January 2013 in Nagpur.
Her smile was arresting. She had no outward sign of a cleft deformity. She was born with an internal cleft; a defect in the roof of the mouth caused by the two sides of the palate failing to fuse.
This problem can cause feeding difficulties during infancy leading to children becoming malnourished and failing to thrive. Food can be regurgitated through the nose. Hearing impairment may occur as a result of repeated middle ear infections associated with this defect and this combined with difficulty in articulating words can combine to cause speech impediments in affected children.
Parents hear of NCF camps from publicity circulated by the Rotary club of Nagpur West to surrounding villages. The club provides a free meal at the Mure Memorial Hospital for parents who stay there until their child is deemed fit to go home. The cost of transport from villages which can be many kilometres outside Nagpur is borne by the NCF.
Sania was operated on successfully. Closing the defect in her palate will enable her to live a life free of the complications that can occur with such problems. This procedure would have been carried out as a matter of course within the NHS but geography and economics mean this does not always happen in India. The NCF hope to change this for as many children as they can.