When Elisa was born, her parents’ joy lasted only for a fleeting moment before they saw her cleft lip and cleft palate. In an instant, their hopeful excitement gave way to overwhelming sadness. Elisa’s parents were told that surgery could help their daughter. The procedure, however, would come at a steep cost for the poor farming family from Madagascar.

Elisa’s cleft lip and cleft palate made it difficult for her to breastfeed and she soon became underweight. Spoon feeding ensured that she survived until she could begin eating solid foods.

Finally Elisa’s parents learnt that Operation Smile provides free, safe cleft surgeries and would be conducting a medical mission in Tamatave. A comprehensive health evaluation determined that Elisa was healthy enough to receive surgery to repair her cleft lip. Her parents were overjoyed to learn that her life would soon be forever changed.

When the family returned home, their neighbours were shocked by the difference in Elisa’s appearance. Slowly, Elisa’s sweet personality began to shine through.

Elisa looks at herself in a mirror held up by her parents after cleft surgery


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 Elisa around the world.

Elisa standing happy after her cleft lip surgery

Elisa after cleft surgery