Kafiya Maline, aged 23 - pictured with her mother and baby son

Kafiya was ten years old when noma destroyed her lips and cheek and left her with such severe lock-jaw the only way for her to eat and survive was to force liquefied foods through the small gap between her teeth. Chewing and eating normally were impossible so she never ate in public. The indignity of dribbling meant she always covered her face. She dropped out of school because of the insults from other pupils.

In 2008, Project Harar’s outreach team found Kafiya and organisedthree stages of surgery between then and 2011. This rebuilt her cheek, formed new lips and released her clenched mouth.  Although her mouth opening is limited, she can eat properly, chew food and it has given her the confidence to eat with friends and in public.  She no longer dribbles and she is really happy with the way she looks.  No-one insults her anymore and she feels a part of the community again.  In her own words, Kafiya is once again ‘like other people’.

Since the surgery, Kafiya has got married and she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last year.  Her life has changed dramatically.

Kafiya was interviewed and assessed as part of Project Harar's 2012noma follow-up project, conducted with Dr Nadia Lafferty (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine)

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