Help Karena smile again
Dad appeals for help as nine-year-old needs oral surgery and orthodontic treatment
For now, Wellesley Gayle is desperate to have two wishes for his nine-year-old daughter Karena come true. First, that her speech impediment will be corrected, and second, that she will be able to confidently smile again.
But Gayle admits with a heavy sigh that he has a problem. He can't come up with the US$9,360 Karena needs for oral surgery and orthodontic treatment to correct severe overcrowding of her teeth.
"The teeth are growing larger, bulging out and interfering with her tongue and you can hear the impact in her voice. It has also affected the appearance of her mouth as it is not aligned as it used to be," Gayle told the Jamaica Observer last week.
"Speech is her main activity at both school and church, and she has won various competitions for the Moravian church and other all-island competitions. She also sings on the choir," Gayle said, adding that Karena has continuously topped her class since kindergarten, excelling in drama, spelling and reading.
Of late, however, her self-confidence has diminished, especially because she is being teased at school.
"Recently, she came home crying, and when I asked her what's wrong she said the children were making fun of her teeth," Gayle told the Sunday Observer.
That hit Gayle hard. But it was not until he took Karena to her dentist for a regular cleaning that the gravity of her problem sank in.
"The dentist referred us to the orthodontist as he realised that there were baby teeth pushing out which would make the current situation worse," he said.
But the full orthodontic treatment, according to a document he shared with the Sunday Observer, will cost US$7,360, while oral surgery to remove nine teeth amounts to approximately US$2,000.
Gayle said he is checking to determine how much his insurance will cover. He also intends to take out a loan to offset some of the costs and has already raised US$755 via a website he created (http://www.gofundme.com/helpkarena).
He would, however, appreciate some more assistance and is asking anyone willing to do so to send donations to Scotia account number 934175, or 000097379.
Ideally, he said, he would like his daughter to have the surgery before school reopens in September.
Karena, he said, is fun-loving and has acting talent. "But she is soft and she has begun to withdraw herself because of the effect [her teeth] have had on her, coupled with the teasing from other children," he said.
"From she was small I tried my best to make her confident... so I really want to rebuild her confidence, get her to smile again and not have her speech affected," he said.
"We tell her about the braces and explain that they will be colourful, so that she doesn't feel so bad," he added.
"Every time I think about the cost it scares me," he said. "When she was four-plus she read the first lesson at my mother's funeral and she has always been a top student. I would appreciate any assistance I can get."