For the past four years, Smile Train has been chronicling the story of Natsir, a volunteer who has made it his mission to help Indonesian children born with clefts receive help they so desperately need. Below is a brief recap of Natsir’s inspiring story and the latest update.
Two of Natsir’s four sons were born with a cleft lip in their remote mountain village located in Indonesia. For years, Natsir felt responsible for his sons’ isolation from many in their community. “They were only being bullied because I couldn’t afford the cleft repair surgeries,” he thought.
Everything changed the day Natsir and his sons met a tourist who referred them to a Smile Train partner hospital, and, soon after, both his sons received free cleft surgeries. From that day forward, Natsir made the commitment to spread the word about Smile Train and attempt to seek out other families in need of comprehensive cleft care.
To find these isolated children, Natsir travels from town-to-town and waits for hours at local markets and schools. He shares his Smile Train story and pictures of his sons, before and after their cleft surgeries, to anyone willing to stop and listen.
Natsir accompanies families interested in free cleft surgery on the long journey, often times by foot, to the nearest local Smile Train partner. Natsir never leaves the child throughout the process — he even stays up all night with them the night before their cleft surgery, in case they wake up with questions for him.
Natsir says that he dedicates a great part of his life to helping children and families affected by cleft because Smile Train helped his family achieve the impossible — a bright future for his sons. Alwi, is now 15 years old and has aspirations of becoming a cleft surgeon, while his younger son, Winner, is at the top of his class academically and has many friends.
Since he started volunteering as a Smile Train advocate, 126 children have new smiles. Natsir shared, “Life is short and this is a way I can help people with the time I have left. If you can help just one child smile, many people around that child will be happy. Our family may not have many things, but we have many happy people around us.”
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