Pailin ‘Tar’ Kwanmuang
Read more Smile Stories >
Story written by Kristopher Hall
“Well, your baby is now as good looking as me. And that is hard to do,” said the doctor with a little chuckle as he watched the mother beaming and fawning over her daughter. The mother’s face was fixed with sheer bliss, which was the exact opposite as it had been eight months earlier. The last time that she was handed her daughter in the hospital she was heartbroken to discover that she was born with a cleft lip and palate.
When Kwankaew first saw her daughter Pailin she was confused and scared that she would not know how to raise her baby and take care of her. Her fear was not eased when she had to be transferred from Pang-goo district to the Sisaket hospital in order to learn special techniques to feed her baby who was unable to breast feed as she had expected. Every day after she worried not only about how to feed her new daughter, but also about how her daughter’s life would be affected by a facial deformity. Her greatest fear was that she would grow to feel inferior and live a life of unhappiness.
It was when she heard an outreach commercial for Operation Smile on community radio that she first felt hope. She was excited that her daughter could have the opportunity for a normal life, and that excitement kept her going until the day she rode a bus to the Sisaket Hospital mission. Her expectations, as great as they were, were not enough to predict the happiness she felt when the doctor brought Pailin from the operation room. She looked down at her daughter’s brand new smile and was in shock at how such a fast operation could change the rest of her daughter’s life. Kwankaew feels so lucky to have been given this gift and hopes that Pailin might grow to be a teacher and use her new smile to change the lives of other children in return.