Anji starts a new innings as The Smile Train lends the strength of love

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Good news from Dr Mukunda Reddy, head of the cleft unit at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India, that is largely funded by cleft charity The Smile Train.

Readers of The Moodie Blog will remember little Anji (above), the cheeky wee boy with deep brown eyes, a smile as wide as Hyderabad (especially when I suggested he would one day play cricket for India) and a serious cleft lip, who was due to be operated on during our first visit to Nizam’s in July 2007.

Unfortunately the medical team discovered Anji had a heart condition, which had to be fixed before his cleft could be dealt with.

That was duly done, and when I visited Nizam’s last week, Anji (above) had arrived for his cleft surgery. Dr Reddy dropped me a line today to tell me the surgery had been successful and to show me some photos (below) that underline the incredible transformation brought by the procedure. 

“Anji went home three days after surgery. The sutures are still in place and he will look much better in six months time,” Dr Reddy told us.

He added: “His eyes lit up when he saw the cricket bat (below) which he got as a gift from us.”

It’s a beautiful story. As I flew back from India to London last week I looked at the pictures I had taken at Nizam’s. I was struck not only by the dignity and humility of the children, and by the skill and professionalism of the medical team, but by a constant quality I saw in the eyes of the parents and grandparents of the children, who had stood by them and cared for them despite the severe difficulties posed by having a cleft child in a poor family in India. I enclose some of those photos at the foot of this story. Take a look at the pictures below and you will see what I mean.

I also saw the same quality in Dr Reddy’s eyes and those of his marvellous team. For want of a better phrase I call it the strength of love and on the basis of that simple thought I penned the following poem while flying home. I write journalism not poetry so I make no claims to its literary quality. But it summed up how Nizam’s and The Smile Train made me feel.

To Anji – The Strength of Love

(On visiting The Smile Train-funded children’s cleft unit at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, India, August 2008)

 Your big brown eyes, a deep ravine

Shine with life and with beauty

Your mother’s hand never leaves your side

She will never forget her duty

– For she is the strength of love


This quiet man, who walks among you

With healing hands of wonder

Soon your turn will come my son

Your long wait cast asunder

– For he is the strength of love


We walk this ward, this place of hope

That takes away the pain

That brings reward to all who wait

And who ride The Smile Train

– For they are the strength of love


So little Anji, be happy now

May your life start off anew

May you dream the dreams that you deserve

May your smile never leave you

– For you are the strength of love

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