Ghanaian manufacturing giant, Blow chem Industries Limited has financed free surgeries for 40 individuals suffering from cleft lip and palate diseases in Ho in the Volta Region.
A cleft lip is a physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip and appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. This separation often extends beyond the base of the nose and includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum.
The individuals, who predominantly consist of children as young as 6-month old Abigail and older individuals like 62-year old Abdulai, could not hide their joy and excitement at the kind gesture by Blow chem.
The project was financed by revenues from the sale of Blow Chem’s food and beverage products, Bel-Aqua and Yum-mie Instant Noodles, and forms a part of the company’s long-term Corporate Social Responsibility which is aimed at improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable in society, especially women and children.
Brands Manager for Blow Chem Industries Limited, Emmanuel Quist, in an interview with the press, said every child deserves a smile, and it is absolutely cruel for life’s circumstances to make it painful for them to do so.
“The smile of a child warms the heart of the parent and everyone around them. I describe it as their gift to the world. We at Blow Chem find it completely unacceptable that the cleft lip and cleft palate condition will rob these innocent children of their smile. This is why we are committing a total of GHC120,000 to the cause of correcting these defects through Operation Smile’s initiatives this year”, Mr. Quist said.
In the month of April, twenty-five individuals and their families have had their lives touched by the warm gesture of Blow Chem Industries Limited, and Mr. Quist promises that more people will benefit in the coming months.
“Today, we are proud to say that with revenues generated from the sale of our products, Bel-Aqua and Yum-mie Instant Noodles, we have been able to touch the lives of individuals like Abigail, Munkaila and Abdulai.”
He urged families of children and adults living with the condition to refrain from stigmatizing them, and rather seek the help of Operation Smile, as the cleft lip and Palate conditions can be easily corrected through a minor surgical procedure.
“Apart from the lack of financial capacity of most cleft palate victims, there is the issue of stigmatization and social neglect. We also realized that most families know little or nothing about the disease. There are lots of families who attribute the condition to curses and other superstitious causes and so do not seek any medical attention”, Mr. Quist added.
Memuna Hasan, the mother of little Munkaila, one of the babies who received a free surgery, narrated a touching story of how her baby was stigmatized by her family.
“My extended family droves me and my baby out of the house, accusing me of witchcraft. They said my child’s cleft palate condition is a punishment from God for my alleged sorcery. They said I had given birth to a lizard and not a human.”
The negative impacts of the cleft palate and lip condition is worsened by constant stigma and social neglect leading to low self-esteem of these children..
Parent of 6-month old Abigail Aboagye one of the beneficiaries of Bel-Aqua’s sponsorship for a free surgery, narrated the ordeal she and her baby have gone through owing to the condition.
“ People tend to stare at Sarah a lot upon seeing her. My baby’s eating habit has been negatively affected as well. She is unable to feed properly. There is also a risk of food and water sipping into her nasal cavity, which has the risk of choking her during feeding if I don’t position her properly.”
Abigail’s mother is delighted that her baby will now have the chance of a normal life due to Bel-Aqua’s contribution to Operation Smile.
“I am completely grateful to Bel-Aqua and Operation Smile for making it possible for my baby to have the surgery. I wish to encourage all companies operating in Ghana to find a way to give back to society just as Bel-Aqua is doing”, she said.
According to Brands Manager of Blow Chem Industries Limited, Emmanuel Quist, Bel-Aqua takes utter pleasure in giving back to society especially along the lines of alleviating unbearable afflictions of disadvantaged people in society with an emphasis on women and children.
Bel-Aqua and Operation Smile’s gesture will truly go a long way to give better living conditions for these children and their families.