Chutima 'Paeng' Todpanon
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Story written by Kristopher Hall
Chutima’s parents trembled with shock when the nurse presented her for the first time. The two young parents, the older only 21 and not long an adult himself, had already been dealing with the difficulties and worry of starting a new family when they were faced with this new and unexpected challenge. Not knowing what to do, they returned to the farm on which they worked and worried not only about the future for their baby daughter, but dealt with the guilt of thinking that perhaps their work with chemicals and pesticides in the field had been the cause.
Chutima’s mom and dad worked the farm during the day while fears of a lifetime of ridicule and hardship for their daughter tormented their minds. It was only when they heard about Operation Smile on community radio and received a letter from Sisaket hospital that they began to feel hopeful.
After the surgery they trembled again, but this time with joy and surprise at how well the surgery was performed. They commented on how small the incision was, and how beautiful their daughter already looked. It was then her mother was finally able to let all her hopes run free, and she said how she believed that children with birth defects had been given other special gifts that now her daughter wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with the world. Her parents hope that little Chutima will do well in school, and wish for her a bright future doing whatever makes her happy.
Chutima has been a smiling and happy baby ever since the operation and her parents have made some changes as well. Her father has started a new career as a sailor, and her mother is able to stay at home and take care of her every day. The entire family is so very thankful for the new lives they have all been given by Operation Smile, and the world of opportunity that has opened for little Chutima.