Success Stories

Jorge The Farmer

Jorge is a 36 year-old farmer. He works from 4 A.M. till 6 P.M. each day, cutting wood from coffee plants and bundling it to sell as firewood. For this labor he receives the equivalent of $5 USD per day.

Jorge lives with his married sister and her family, since his mother died a few months ago. He was born with a birth defect known as “cleft lip and palate”. Throughout his entire childhood and thus far in his adult life, he has been so ashamed of his appearance and has felt so ugly, that he really only worked and spent time at home with his family. Although he had had a number of surgeries in the past, most of them when he was a child, the results were never satisfactory and left him feeling deformed and disgraced.

Each November his village celebrates special festivals and there are dances and fun activities, and it is always a time for the young people to come together and even romance a little. However these were always times of sadness and embarrassment for Jorge, for all the girls refused to dance with him. For him the idea of marriage and some day a family of his own was out of the question; in fact even the possibility of a girl friend seemed beyond his hopes.

Then one day, a man from a neighboring village told him of a group of American doctors and nurses who were coming to a hospital near Guatemala City, doing volunteer work in correcting deformities like his…repairing cleft lips and palates. Jorge accepted the man’s invitation for transport to the City, and getting leave from his work, traveled the long and difficult distance to the hospital and the possibility for a new look and a new life.

He was examined by the visiting team and was told that something could be done, but that he would have to wait a couple days while the babies and younger patients were taken care of. He gladly agreed, and though a little frightened, he patiently waited at the hospital for his turn…

Then it came to be his turn. Most of the children had been taken care of…about 30 patients in all. Jorge’s operation took three and a half hours to complete; all the time of course he was asleep under anesthesia. His scarred and deformed lip and palate were opened up and totally revised and the distorted anatomy put back as nearly normal as possible.

When he awakened after the surgery, Jorge looked at himself in the mirror and just beamed. His face broke into a smile. For the first time he began to realize the possibilities that might await him. With tears in his eyes and bowing to his medical team, he said, “God bless you. You have changed my life.”

Jorge went home a changed man, with a smile on his face and, for the first time ever, hope in his heart for a better future.