Posted by Phoenix West Rotary "West Side Story"
Today’s program chair, Susan Nicholson, in-troduced our speaker, Gina Butchin, author of The Mirror Lies—a personal story of growing up with a cleft palate. Gina, a communications professional/speaker on growing up with a facial difference, was born into the same world as one out of every six babies, starting life with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate. She struggled with feeding, using a drinking fountain or straw and being ridiculed for how she looked and sounded. She spent her childhood painfully aware of her facial difference and insecure about the sound of her voice, insecurities that were reinforced by her schoolmates. She got by with the help and support of her mother, 
Its taken many surgeries and a lifetime of reflection for her to be able to look beyond the mirror and see herself for who she truly is, a woman of strength and value. 
This was a very moving story about dealing with a cleft palate, in herself and her brother. They both had undergone a series of surgeries over the years to correct this problem. PDG Ron added that this condition was caused by the mothers’ lack of folic acid and that a Rotary program in 2000 called Rotaplast was very active in sending surgical teams to South America countries where this condition was common. Rotaplast originated as an international project of the RC of San Francisco (RC #2). Ron and Norma had attended a number of functions in San Francisco in support of this program in 2000. Anita Stangl was the Executive Director of Rotaplast and made many presentations to Rotarians in Arizona. Walter Switzer of Phoenix 100 made one trip to Chili with a surgical team and was very impressed by the experience. (Another program active in this endeavor is SmileTrain.)