When she stood to speak at a debate session in high school, Nashibah would argue her points clearly, concisely, and with devastating impact on her opponents’ theories, but the audience was always too preoccupied with her cleft to notice. This made her feel small and unworthy, just as the bullying and name-calling she endured off the debate stage did.
This burden she carried for years was finally lifted after a chance encounter with Dr. Rose Alenyo, head of the Smile Care Foundation, a Smile Train partner in Uganda. Once Dr. Alenyo told her she was eligible for free surgery to heal her cleft, Nashibah signed up immediately. With her new smile and the confidence it brought, she graduated from campus and now works at a financial services company.
So deep was Nashibah’s joy at finally receiving treatment that she is now a Smile Train Ambassador. This means that when she’s not at the office, she can be seen walking in the market waving Smile Train fliers and letting people know where to go for free cleft treatment. Thanks to her, so many people who might have spent their whole lives sick and stigmatized have received life-changing — and sometimes lifesaving — treatment through the Smile Care Foundation and Smile Train.
“The surgery relieved me of the trauma I was going through due to insults and rejection from society. I have been voluntarily mobilizing through different platforms to encourage people with clefts to go for their operation because it makes me happy. Knowing life both before and after surgery, my ambition is to use my testimony to create more awareness in society and convince more people with clefts to receive treatment,” said Nashibah.
When her son, Shime, was born with a cleft, she knew exactly what to do.
“I was not worried when I had my son…. My boy continues to be my source of inspiration to encourage more mothers to take their children for treatment. “
“Nashibah has been instrumental in bringing children and adults for treatment,” said Dr. Alenyo. “She has even brought in those who had poor-quality surgery as children and had since been hiding from treatment because they were convinced they would die in the operating room. She is amazing!”
Nashibah continues to shout about Smile Train’s free cleft treatment from the rooftops, single-handedly boosting the confidence of many mothers and children who lean on her smile for the reassurance and inspiration they need to find theirs.