Boy in an orange t-shirt with a cleft lip

Keni’s Story

Keni was born with a cleft lip and palate in a remote village in Madagascar. His mother, Rodine, struggled to breastfeed him and blamed herself for her son’s cleft condition. Rodine knew surgery was possible but saving enough money for private surgery was beyond their means as subsistence farmers. She kept faith however that a solution would present itself.

When the village midwife told Rodine and her husband Lava, that Operation Smile were coming to Tamatave, the family scraped together enough money to pay for the bus for Rodine and Keni. The long journey meant a 36 hour walk to the bus stop and then a three hour ride to the hospital where they hoped Keni’s days of being teased and bullied would finally be over.

Thankfully, Keni was successfully passed fit for surgery and he can now look forward to a brighter future.

Smiling boy with a repaired cleft lip sat next to his mother

About Operation Smile

Boy with a cleft lip and palate being examined by an Operation Smile medical volunteer

Operation Smile has provided safe cleft surgery to hundreds of thousands of children worldwide thanks to our network of over 6,000 volunteers. However, we know that there are still millions more living with cleft conditions.

Children born with a cleft often have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. They are also often bullied and left isolated from their peers and community. For many families like Keni’s, Operation Smile is the only hope they have to give their children the future they deserve.

For patients who receive surgery, a new life can finally begin. The care we provide gives children the confidence to pursue the wonderful opportunities they were previously unable to realise. We can only continue to provide life-changing cleft care with your help.


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 Keni around the world.

Keni after his cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, smilling at the camera

Keni after cleft surgery