All of Smile Train Africa mourns the loss of our partner Dr. Ashraf Emarah, a fearless advocate for all people with clefts, who transformed the lives of hundreds of children across Africa.
An iconic, kind, and determined surgeon, Dr. Ashraf dedicated 12 years of service to Smile Train to ensure that children born with clefts were able to live full, happy, and healthy lives. Dr. Ashraf also poured his heart to growing his cleft surgical expertise and passing it down to surgeons everywhere from Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and to Zimbabwe. Thanks to him, these budding surgeons can now provide high-quality cleft care to communities in every corner of Africa.
His magical hands will forever be appreciated by Barbara Marie Chebet, whose son’s life was changed forever by Dr. Ashraf. “He was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel,” she said. “When my son was born with a cleft, Dr. Ashraf was the plastic surgeon called to see us. He operated on my baby and reassured me.”
During an outreach event in Zimbabwe, Dr. Ashraf also met siblings Eraston (11 years old) and Ramazani (1 year old) who fled their home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with their mother. In his celebratory email to Smile Train Africa, Dr. Ashraf expressed joy in having treated both siblings on the same day, terming it a rare occasion.
When not operating for Smile Train, Dr. Ashraf was a Lecturer of Plastic Surgery at the Department of Surgery and Anaesthesiology at the Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret. He was also a Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, the second-largest referral hospital in Kenya. In 2015, he received a certificate of appreciation from Smile Train for his commitment and passion in supporting Smile Train’s work advancing sustainable, local cleft care in Africa.
“His passing is a heavy blow to Smile Train, but his work and legacy are worth celebrating. We encourage healthcare workers everywhere to keep his memory alive by emulating his values of service and care,” said Dr. Esther Njoroge-Muriithi, Smile Train’s VP and regional director for Africa.
“On behalf of everyone at Smile Train, our heartfelt condolences go to Dr. Ashraf’s wife and children, colleagues at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, the patients whose lives he touched, and the many friends he made across the continent during his lifetime journey of smiles.”