Born Whole: Just Like You And Me

It’s been nearly a month since my Journey of Smiles adventure, and although I’ve settled back into my normal rhythm of school runs, creative work, family life, etc., part of me is still in Guatemala.


I often think about the children I met there; Sandy and Evelyn, baby Juan whose operation I watched, the girl with Treacher Collins, the baby boy I cradled in my arms and with whom I fell head over heels in love. Their beautiful faces are forever etched in my mind and heart.


As excited as I was to visit Guatemala and observe first hand the vital work Smile Train does there, I felt somewhat anxious in the week leading up to the trip. Continue reading

A Dutch Angel in Antigua

When my first baby was born, I was lucky that I was able to breastfeed her though it wasn’t always plain sailing. New to motherhood I constantly worried that my daughter wasn’t gaining enough weight and I’d cry hysterically each time the health visitor weighed her.

In the end, I breastfed my daughter until she was well over a year old and when her younger sister was born a few years later, I was a lot more relaxed about feeding her. Then again, she weighed a whopping 4.95kg (10 pounds, 11oz) at birth so there really wasn’t any need to worry.

Feeding a baby born with a cleft presents a different kind of challenge: poor suck, air swallowing, milk entering the nose, long feeding times and fatigue can result in poor weight gain. Continue reading

Rope Skipping in Guatemala

Exhausted from the emotional intensity of the visit to the clinic and from watching an infant’s surgery, I returned to the hotel with the group for a quick respite. Next item on the agenda was something altogether different: we were climbing Pacaya volcano, one of the many volcanoes scattered throughout Guatemala, and which is still active.

I did it!

When I first heard we were doing an afternoon tour of a volcano, I imagined a semi-leisurely stroll along a winding pathway up the volcano. How wrong I was! It turned out to be a steep hike upwards, aided only by a stick I’d bought from a village kid for $1. Continue reading