Children born with cleft lips or palates are commonly called cleft children – their cleft, however, reaches far beyond the visible malformation.

In India especially, cleft children are often seen as cursed, born “cut open” because their mothers must have committed a sin. Meeting these children and their families, I witnessed the social pressure they are under and the cleft it has carved into their communities. I also encountered a network of local aid, tirelessly working towards vital social change. Seeing beyond the perceptions and prejudices these children and their mothers are facing, social workers and volunteers are spreading knowledge about the natural causes of cleft and the possibility of medical treatment – because cleft is very treatable in the hands of trained surgeons.

This series portraits Amina (3) and her family who have just been given a second chance at living a normal life, undergoing cleft surgery in Calcutta.


Shot in West Bengal, India

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