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Facing up to life

By  Liu Zhihua  (China Daily)

10:47, May 09, 2012

A boy from Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou, who was born with a cleft lip, receives a free surgery from the US-based nonprofit Operation Smile. Huang Zhengsheng / For China Daily

An initiative to help individuals born with a need for cosmetic surgery is giving hope to those who can't afford the procedures. Liu Zhihua reports in Beijing.

The 18-year-old has been wearing sunglasses for weeks to hide her swollen eyes, since undergoing double eyelid surgery. But even so, she thinks the future looks bright. "I'm counting the days until I can take the stitches out and remove the glasses," says Zhang Li (not her real name).

She is a beneficiary of the Rainbow China charity program that provides free cosmetic surgery to congenitally disfigured individuals who cannot afford the procedures they need.

It is backed by the Volunteer Working Committee of China Charity Federation, the Lotus Love Fund of the China Youth Development Foundation, and, a website that provides plastic surgery information.

Dozens of hospitals nationwide have joined the program launched in late March to offer free operations to at least two people a year.

Zhang Li was among the first to benefit from the initiative.

Born in a small village in Gaomi county in Weifang city, Shandong province, and adopted by a farming family, Zhang grew up battling discrimination because, as she puts it: "I was just plain ugly."

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