Skip to content

In the densely populated city of Mossoró, Brazil, Dona Maria spent her entire life living with an unrepaired cleft lip.

While she undoubtedly faced challenges and overcame obstacles because of her Cleft Lip, 67-year-old Dona Maria consistently dreamt of one thing. 

Though seen by many as a simple pleasure, what she wished for most was to wear lipstick.

During a 2017 Operation Smile Brazil medical mission, Dona Maria passed her health evaluation and underwent her long-awaited surgery, feeling closer than ever to reaching that dream.

Moments after waking from the operation, Dona Maria felt eager to see her new smile.

After 67 years of living with a cleft condition, she proudly showed the entire medical volunteer team who were thrilled to be a part of that special moment. 

After allowing her lip to properly heal from surgery, Dona Maria could finally live out her dream of putting on red lipstick for the first time in her life.

Laine Paiva, a volunteer photographer for Operation Smile Brazil, was so moved by Dona Maria’s story that she arranged a photo shoot with her, capturing images of her dreams becoming reality.