When Felhano’s mother, Kose, gave birth to her daughter Felhano, she was astonished to discover that Felhano had cleft lip and palate. ‘I was appalled when I first saw Felhano,’ she said. ‘I had no idea what to do, how on earth to deal with this.’

In the Somali region of Ethiopia, where Kose lives with her husband, there is little knowledge of cleft lip and palate. ‘I felt like I was swimming and was struggling to keep my head above the water,’ Kose said.  ‘How would other people treat Felhano when she grew older?’

Luckily, however, Kose came across local support for parents of children with cleft. ‘I met other parents of children who had cleft, who helped us to feel that we were not alone. We also saw some children who had had operations for their clefts, and I began to believe that there might be a hopeful future for Felhano. I was so relieved. We hoped that one day Felhano might be able to have the operation.’

At her local health centre, Kose and Felhano were told that Project Harar could provide the surgery for Felhano’s cleft lip, and later on her cleft palate as well. ‘When we learned that Project Harar could give her the operation we were so happy. It made a huge difference too that the charity would pay for us to travel to Addis Ababa, and pay for our accommodation. We would not have been able to afford the journey otherwise.’

The operation was carried out very quickly and easily, leaving Felhano with a brand new face. Kose said, ‘I was scared for Felhano, so I thought we should just get the operation over with as soon as possible so I could stop worrying a bit sooner. I shouldn’t have worried. I’m so happy with how she looks after her operation – it’s like a miracle.’