Girl with a cleft lip and cleft palate

Afia’s Story

When Afia was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, her mother, Christiana, didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t eat, so she was severely malnourished when Operation Smile found her. At the age of four months Afia weighed only 1.2 kg. A healthy child should weigh around 6.4kg at that age. Given the gravity of the situation, the baby was rushed to a hospital in Accra, but her road to recovery was still long and difficult.

On hearing of Operation Smile, Afia’s family knew it was their only hope. Christiana took Afia to three medical missions, but the little girl was always too anaemic or ill to safely undergo surgery. Finally when Afia was four years old the eagerly awaited day came and Afia received her life changing surgery. Dr Clive Duke, an anaesthetist from the UK and an Operation Smile medical volunteer, was with her in that moment.

Operation Smile medical volunteer holding girl with a cleft lip and palate before cleft surgery

“When I took Afia into the recovery room and put her into her mum’s arms, the years of worry just melted away from her face and she started smiling broadly. Everyone watching had a tear in their eye … it was a moment I’ll never forget.”

Dr Clive Duke, Anaesthetist and Operation Smile Medical volunteer


It takes only 45 minutes and as little as €180 to give a new smile to a child, but your gift is more than a surgery. All of our supporters give renewed hope to children like Afia around the world.

Operation Smile medical volunteer holding girl with a repaired cleft lip

Clive with Afia after cleft surgery