“Mummy, what happened?”


Divina and Rene experienced despair when their second child Jun Reno was born with a cleft lip and palate. When Rina, their fourth child, was also born with a cleft they were devastated.

They tried to accept that they now had two children who would live with being stared at and bullied. Their despair was made worse knowing they could never afford to pay for surgery on Rene’s small salary.

However, when Jun Reno was eight an Operation Smile Team came to Cavite in the Philippines and he received his life changing lip surgery.  Rina had to wait as she was too young.

Two years later Rina started primary school. At home, her friends were accustomed to the hole in her mouth, but at school the bullying was so bad that she refused to go back.

Finally in November 2012, on a mission in Cavite, the family’s long wait came to an end when they saw Rina’s name on the surgical schedule.

On the afternoon of her surgery, Rina gave her mother a kiss and walked confidently into the Operating Room, ready for her life to be changed forever.

When Divina was called into the Recovery Room, she could not believe the change in Rina – she looked beautiful. Once Rina was awake, a nurse handed her a mirror and she looked at her new face. Gently touching her lip she asked her mother, “What happened?”


Nine months after surgery, Rina’s mother described her as a happy, confident little girl who loves to play with her friends. All the name calling has stopped and Rina is back in school. “I am very thankful to the doctors and nurses and appreciate them wanting to help others.” says Rina’s mother, with tears in her eyes.

Editor’s note. Rina’s story was featured on our Christmas appeal. You can help us send medical supplies to help 1,960 children this Christmas!


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“Every child that has a facial deformity is our responsibility. If we don’t take care of that child, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will.”

- Kathy Magee, Operation Smile Co-founder and President