It’s CLAPA week!
For those of you that don’t know, a cleft lip is where the two sides of your upper lip do not meet during the development of the face while in the womb. It can be unilateral (one side only) or bilateral (both sides). It can come with a gum notch or a cleft palate, where the cleft continues through the gum and along the roof of your mouth: the palate.
This is a very common “defect” and many, many children around the world a born with it. In countries like America and Britain, it can be sorted through a forty-five minute operation. In developing countries, however, children have to live with this. They struggle to eat and drink, they struggle to speak and they’re bullied by their peers for looking different, out of the norm.
And that’s not right.
CLAPA is an organisation to help raise awareness. There is also Operation Smile, which runs on donations to go to developing countries and change the lives of those who otherwise would struggle. And it literally does change lives.
Have a couple of links about clefts:
I was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate, on the right side. Over the years I’ve had ten operations. I’ve been bullied something terrible, all because I don’t look the same as everyone else. And you know what? It’s made me stronger than I could have possibly been without it. My grandparents thought I’d die when I was born, due my cleft and the fact I was two months premature. It didn’t help that I contracted Bronchitis. But I pulled through, and I wouldn’t be me without going through everything I have.
Those pictures are me, one when I was a baby before my lip repair. The second is when I was between the ages of two and four, I believe, after both my lip and palate repair. The last is me a few months ago. People don’t believe me when I say I was born with a cleft: that is how good the surgeons and orthodontists are.
To everyone who hates their cleft, or wishes they were normal, or gets bullied: it get’s better, I promise. Your cleft makes you special, it makes you one of a kind and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re stronger than others, and you should be proud of yourself. You’ve been through so much, and you’ve bounced back every time with determination to continue on.
As Tom Burke said: “For me, it’s only been positive”.
Tom Burke was born with a cleft lip, and he should be an inspiration to everyone.