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Mornet with Child Life Specialist pre-surgery

Mornet is a precious boy.

His mother and father are immigrants living in a Haitian community in the Dominican Republic. Having just grieved the tragic loss of their oldest child, Mornet’s parents were once again living with the reality that their precious one-year-old was struggling to survive.

Born with a cleft lip and palate, Mornet had difficulty eating and the tiny boy could not gain weight.

As farm workers, Mornet’s parents lacked the resources to get their child the help he needed. The 7-hour trip to the hospital was beyond their financial reach, and they certainly couldn’t afford to pay for the surgery he desperately required to survive.

But that’s when Ainhoa, a local community worker, told Mornet’s father about the free surgery and care available through Operation Smile. She even accompanied Mornet and his dad, Monies, on their initial screening visit to the care centre in Santo Domingo.

That first visit brought a ray of hope. Not only did they teach Monies how to feed Mornet, but they also gave him assurance that someday soon his son’s cleft lip would turn into a warm and welcoming smile.

Once Mornet was nurtured to full health, a new light dawned in his parents’ hearts. The day of his surgery couldn’t come fast enough.

Thousands of families like Mornet’s are standing on the cusp of something beautiful and life-changing.

After cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, a child can breathe easier, and drink and eat better. It changes how other people treat the child and how they feel about themselves. That transformation is possible for every child because we never turn away a child or family who needs us.

We’ve seen for ourselves, while working in low- and middle-income countries for over 40 years, how the hope-filled partnerships of friends like you change not only the lives of these children, but their families and communities too.

Together with you, we provide children like Mornet with pre- and post-surgical care including nutrition support, speech therapy, dentistry, and psychosocial care.

Mornet’s family is forever grateful for Operation Smile and partners like you that power our work.


Updated April 2024: Mornet was all smiles when we met him again at the surgical program in Santo Domingo at the beginning of April.

Female volunteer interacting with young child
Mornet was so proud to be wearing Julia’s Operation Smile hat.
Child wearing a baseball cap
Mornet wearing an Operation Smile baseball cap
Woman and child smiling
Mornet and his caretaker, Ainhoa, are waiting for his comprehensive health evaluation.



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