Hope made its way to Haiti on August 13, 2011. That morning, I had been in the Pre-Op room with the kids, getting them calmed down and ready for surgery. All of a sudden our translator, Cliff, came into the room with the look of urgency on his face. He came straight to me and asked if I would come with him; there was a woman I needed to see. We rushed off to the waiting area where there was an elderly woman sitting alone, weeping, and holding a beautiful baby girl named Keleta Auguste. The woman was so sorrowful; it was heartbreaking.
When I approached her, I asked Cliff to tell her that I thought Keleta was a beautiful girl. The woman wanted me to know she did not think her baby was beautiful. Instead, she believed Keleta to be cursed. The woman said that she would never be beautiful, she would never get married, no man would love her, and she would not have a happy life. This precious piece of heaven had been born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.
The elderly woman then began to speak very quickly back and forth with Cliff. She was asking him why he had brought me to stand with her. He explained to her that I had had a cleft lip just like Keleta. He then explained to her that Dr. Hobar had performed all of my operations from my initial surgery until my most recent. She looked at me, and I could tell she was still very confused. I asked Cliff to tell her that the same surgeon who had done my surgeries would be doing that baby girl’s the very next day. She again took a very long, good look at me. Tears began to form in her eyes again, but this time, they were different tears. She was shedding tears of joy. She had been given hope.
That night while telling this story to Dr. Hobar, he asked if I would like to be the first assistant in Keleta’s surgery the next day. Of course, I said yes! It was amazing being able to be such a big part of this girl’s journey. It was even better being able to give hope to the hopeless. My cleft lip, which I had previously seen as a problem, then became one of the biggest blessings in my life.