This May Cleft Friends is celebrating 10 Years! Whoop! Whoop! If you or your loved one is cleft affected feel free to email your photo and story to us at We want to share encouraging stories and create awareness about cleft lip and palate in South Africa. You are not alone!

My beautiful daughter was born on the 4 December 2002 with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.

I was six weeks along when I found out I was pregnant. It came as a big surprise as I was currently focusing on getting a job.

Two weeks after finding out I was pregnant I started bleeding heavily and was taken into hospital. There was still a strong heart beat however the doctor did advise me to abort the baby after a week in hospital. I chose to trust in God. I was told she would never make it if I went into normal labour so I trusted in a miracle from God and waited anxiously until my caesar date.

I woke up after my caesar and asked for my baby, they said she was bathing and then she was feeding…I sensed something was wrong. They then came and spoke to me behind a closed curtain saying that something was wrong with the mouth of my baby.

I asked them to see her as I didn’t understand what they were saying. I was in shock as I looked at her. I immediately thought the worst, so I prayed to God asking for strength and phoned my husband to tell him. We at this stage didn’t even know what her condition was called.

I had to rely on feeding her with a syringe and as a new mom you want to breastfeed your baby so you can bond with her, but that was not possible for me. When my little girl was 4 days old we were referred to another hospital closer to my parents, as their help was needed, and this was where her check-ups and operations took place. I started using a syringe and an open mouth of a feeding bottle (I cut the nipple of the bottle teat so that the hole was bigger, this is what I mean by “open mouth of a feeding bottle”). I was reassured to know that she was growing stronger even though it was a challenge to feed her sometimes but after a feed she would laugh and be happy and I knew she was full.

The first operation was repairing the lip at five months. When I first saw her after the operation I was crying tears of joy and also tears seeing her in pain and not been able to do anything to ease it. Second, third and fourth palate operations took place and the fifth one was grommets.

When she eats pap and milk, the milk drips from her nose because she still has a small hole (fistula) in her mouth that still needs to be repaired.

She is a young girl who is talented, likes to draw, do art, things with her hands and singing. I thank God for her.

Keletso (16) dancing at the Parys Flower Festival in October 2018

When I gave birth I already had a name for her, Kesenogile, meaning that God did know about her before she was revealed to us. My mother named her Kelts, meaning a lesson and lastly my sister in law named her Nthabiseng, meaning make us happy.

That is exactly what she does and is: HAPPY.

Jeanette Mpondo
Parys, Free State

#cleftfriends #smilefoundationsa #closingthegap #youarenotalone #cleftlip #cleftpalate #cleftstrong #cleftmomsSA #cleftcourage

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