Gena is 16 years old and from Southern Ethiopia. Before she found Facing Africa, the left side of her mouth was almost inverted so that the gums and teeth were apparent through the cheek. She is the youngest of six and had spent her entire life behind the walls of the home. Gena approached Facing Africa with her older sister, Foziya, who is not only very beautiful but very confident as well. The love between them is obvious but whilst Foziya led the show, Gena hid in the shadows behind her.
The surgeons, anaesthetists, and theatre nurses laboured together for 9 hours correcting Gena's defect. Two months later and Gena is a very different girl: the swelling has gone down she can smile; she joins in the joking with the other girls; she’s confident enough to get her hair done, and we even find her and her sister putting lipstick on together one day. These seem like small things but this is the first time in her life that Gena can take part in the normality of the everyday rituals that many of us take for granted.
Related work: Destructive Diseases