Story written by Chawadee Nualkhair
Born last year, Kunanon Rinthong (nicknamed “Oat”) is the youngest of three children born to fishermen parents who are plying the banks of the Khong River in their own boat. Although a healthy, strapping boy with lively eyes, Oat’s appearance frightened his 38-year-old mother, who did not expect her son’s cleft lip, cleft palate and feet deformity.
Scraping up the 2,000 baht needed to rent a car, his parents drove to Ubon to consult the doctors of Operation Smile, who were able to reassure her that Oat’s cleft could be easily treated, giving her son the “normal” life she so desired for her new baby. With a little more time and after an operation that may take as little as 45 minutes, Oat’s mother hopes he will be like his 21-year-old sister and 16-year-old brother – a “normal” baby with a big smile.