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Sarai - the cleft beauty whose eyes reminded me of my Ella ❤️

When I knew I needed to draw cleft born beauties I was so lucky to be given access to Smile Train imagery.

This was important because it was raising awareness of their incredible work around the world, it was an opportunity to raise funds for them and it also enabled me to be able to truly represent the global cleft community; something which is integral to the project.

The portraits I’ve drawn so far from the huge number of images of Smile Train beneficiaries have kind of chosen themselves.

I have been drawn to particular faces through how I felt when I looked at them.

I’ve held a dream that one day one of these amazing people would see my work and therefore their portrait. Furthermore, a part of this dream is to travel to parts of the world and take the original pieces to their owners.

Today I recieved a message on instagram from Argentina. It was about my portrait of a little girl whom many of you thought was Ella. I was drawn to this little girl because of her eyes and her resemblance of Ella. So her portrait and face have a special place in my heart.

I drew Saraì, a Smile Train beneficiary from Argentina, early on in the project and have since had her beautiful face printed on a scarf.

Her parents saw her portrait and messaged underneath a post of mine how proud they were of her, which was incredible to read.

Today I recieved another message from someone who has looked after her in hospital since she was a baby.

This text told me that Saraí was so very very happy to see her drawing and that she now felt extremely important and that I had changed her life. I’m uncomfortable sharing that bit, will people judge me? - but the uncomfortable bits need to be shared even more. They hold so much possibilities and growth for all of us.

I’m not in the position to be able to travel to Argentina YET. So in the mean time, I’ve decided to send Saraí the scarf to ensure she never forgets how important she is.

Being born with a facial difference such as cleft is challenging as your face is the first thing everybody sees. Often times little ones can feel alone, different, vulnerable and want to take away the part of them that makes them different.

This work is to celebrate cleft and facial difference and bring positivity, colour and connection into the world of those born with cleft.

To be truly seen in life goes far deeper than our visual appearance. I hope my art reflects that I see the people in my portraits, deeply. I see their beauty, their souls, their strength and spirit.

To think that my artwork and the 100 cleft portrait collection has supported a young girl whom I’ve never met but who’s spirit reminded me of my own child is something I struggle to put into words.

So I’m so proud of Ella and I’m so proud of Saraì and to be able to send her HER scarf. I hope she really sees how incredible she truly is and has a constant reminder of the impact she is having on the world and those born with cleft ❤️

Saraì ❤️

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