Guest blog post by Scott Behmer, Smile Network volunteer & trekker

Naomi and her mom stayed overnight in the hospital and were there when I arrived around 7:30am. Quiet as before, her mom offered a simple smile and I could tell she was tired and hungry, but she held and rocked her baby for about 4 hours without complaint. Without really asking, I took Naomi from her arms to give her a break but mom stayed close. Baby was scheduled in spot 4 for the day but the schedule was reshuffled a bit so Naomi went in for surgery around 1pm. She didn’t cry or fuss one bit. Her beautiful eyes just surveyed the room and observed us admiring her.

Dr. Wood is a talented artist and Naomi’s cleft lip was repaired in 37 min (and $500 in supplies). I watched as he prepared the end stage with sutures and in one skillful pull, the opening in her lip was gathered together as simply as closing a book. Magical. She will no longer have this obstacle in her life. She is on her way to something better.

What a wonderful way to commemorate Pride weekend. As my friends and others are celebrating love, hope and acceptance in Minneapolis and in other cities across the country, I can’t help but draw connections to the experience I’m having here in Lima. Naomi will now have a better chance to love herself and be loved by others, her mom will have renewed hope that Naomi may lead a healthier life and this beautiful little girl will more likely be accepted by her community — all due to Smile Network and donations from generous souls. Today was a good day and I’m very proud to have been a part of Naomi’s journey. She won’t remember me but I won’t forget her.

-Scott Behmer