My baby Paul was born with a piece missing from his top lip. Later they told me he had a cleft lip and palate. He could not suck and most of the food and drink I put in his mouth just ran out again. For three months, I struggled to keep him alive and he then only weighed 2kg, which was even less than his birth weight! He would cry a lot, and many times I stayed up most of the night, trying to rock him to sleep.
I could never afford to pay for the surgery to fix his mouth, but one day I heard that a ship had come to Cameroon and was doing these surgeries for free. I could not believe it! When I took Paul to the ship, they immediately put him in the hospital. They told me that would do their best, but they thought that it was maybe even too late to save Paul.
They kept him in the hospital until he started to gain weight. Then they showed me how to feed him at home. At first, I did not think it would work, but within three weeks Paul had already gain a whole kilogram! So I kept going and after three months he weight 6.4kg!
The doctors then said that he was well enough to do the surgery to close his lip. I was a bit nervous about the operation, but they had saved my little boy’s life, so I felt I could trust them. The surgery went very well and soon Paul’s lip was healing nicely. I was happy that the cruel people in our village would finally stop calling him a monster.
Paul still needs another surgery to close the hole in the top of his mouth (palate). The doctors say they cannot do that surgery until he is around one year old and he must be healthy and growing well. We have been trying hard to help him grow but time is running out. In a few weeks, we will know if they can do the surgery to close his palate before the ship leaves!