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Bhumika: A Powerful Story of Life and Loss

After her father died when she was only three months old, Smile Train’s support meant everything to her family.

Bhumika smiling with her mother Jyoti after cleft surgery

Jyoti was raising her kids in Amritsar, India while her husband was away in the army. When she learnt her third child was born with a cleft, she felt the weight of the world pressing on her shoulders. Here’s her story in her own words:

When I learnt that my daughter Bhumika was born with a cleft, all I could do was cry. I was already caring for our two kids on my own. I couldn’t imagine caring for Bhumika’s cleft on top of that. I didn’t even know what a cleft was. As the doctors explained it to me, her care seemed like a riddle.

I immediately phoned my husband to tell him the news. Just hearing his voice was a relief. He told me that the hospital would help get Bhumika the care she needed. Even from so far away, my husband was my light.

Bhumika smiling and holding a photo of herself before cleft surgery
Bhumika before cleft surgery

And, of course, he was right. Soon after Bhumika’s birth, the hospital staff told me that it was possible to get free cleft care with Smile Train partner Amandeep Hospital. Hearing such good news brought me solace.

Within a month, Bhumika had her first appointment at Amandeep Hospital. The staff there were very reassuring. They told me that Bhumika’s cleft was absolutely treatable. Having such reliable doctors on Bhumika’s side brought me great comfort. When Bhumika was ready for her surgery, the results would be beautiful. But first we had to prepare her by helping her gain weight.

This began a very difficult period for our family. My community pushed me away. Everyone around me was unsupportive of Bhumika. I needed a supportive family, but even my relatives pushed me away. My neighbours believed that Bhumika was born with a cleft because there was a lunar eclipse during my pregnancy or something like that. I ignored them because I didn’t care why my daughter was born with a cleft. I just knew I had to give Bhumika as much love and care as possible.

Bhumika smiling and holding a Smile Train teddy bear with her sister and mother Jyoti after cleft surgery
Bhumika posing with her sister and mother

Three months after Bhumika’s birth, I received earth-shattering news. My husband -- my rock, my biggest supporter -- had died in the war.

Everything changed after that. The grief was unimaginable. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. On top of that, my family suddenly had to rely on only my sparse widow’s pension to live.

With no help from my community, I felt so alone. The only person who reached out to me was my father. Now more than ever, having a family member by my side meant the world to me. My children and I moved in with him and he helps support us with his own pension. Without him, I don’t know where we would be.

Bhumika smiling and sitting with her grandfather, sister, mother Jyoti and brother after cleft surgery
Today, Bhumika’s family stands tall together

Throughout all of this, Bhumika required special care. Feeding was the biggest issue. Food often got stuck in her nose while she ate. She would cough and choke, struggling to swallow anything. I would wake up in the middle of the night to carefully feed her with a dropper, easing her when food got stuck and cleaning her up.

It was a difficult process, but it was worth it. Watching her grow before my eyes felt like a dream come true. With every late night of feeding, we were one step closer to her surgery.

Bhumika smiling and flashing a peace sign with her mother Jyoti after cleft surgery
Bhumika and Jyoti make a terrific team

At five months old, Bhumika hit her goal weight for the surgery. My emotions were all jumbled in the hospital. I was upset thinking about the pain she would have to feel and scared of the risks that come with every surgery. On the other hand, I knew it was for the best. For Bhumika, I overcame my fear.

The results of the surgery were stunning. There was just a small scar where her cleft once was. It was hardly noticeable. She looked better than I could’ve ever imagined!

Bhumika smiling and sitting after cleft surgery
Bhumika is never shy about showing off her gleaming smile!

Seeing my daughter heal was the happiest thing for me. Smile Train’s partners were all remarkable during this process. They provided incredible care, advice, and emotional support services not just for Bhumika, but for me as well. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude.

Now, Bhumika is eight years old. She’s an adorable and lovable daughter. She loves to run and especially dance. In school, she’s a wonderful student. She’s particularly great at mathematics. When she grows up, she wants to be in the army just like her father.

Bhumika smiling and posing after cleft surgery
Bhumika showing off her dancing skills

To all of the donors, there is only one thing I wish to say to you: Thank you. Some can’t even afford to visit a hospital, so your generous donations change lives. You bring happiness and joy to our children. I am forever grateful.

Help give a child the gift of a lifetime.