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In many countries, cleft children and their families live on the margins of society. Because of their disfigurement, they are stigmatized as disabled, ridiculed and marginalized. Very few are able to attend school. In addition, many of the children suffer from serious health problems. We want cleft children regardless of their origin to have access to safe, qualified and comprehensive treatment – and thus a chance to live a better life. To achieve this goal, we invest in the long-term development of our projects – as a foundation for functioning treatment structures and thus sustainable aid for our project countries.
Following the motto “Helping people help themselves”, we pursue the goal of developing independent structures in our project countries. The medical effort on site is organized independently by our local partners. In our 12 project countries, more than 250 local doctors, therapists and project coordinators ensure on-site medical care and ongoing support for patients.
Some of our aid projects are supported by German doctors on a voluntary basis with their specialist expertise. They usually visit the project country they are overseeing once a year. In addition to regular project evaluation, these visits are also used to further educate local partners. We also promote interdisciplinary exchange between our international project partners. All of these measures have one goal: to ensure high quality treatment worldwide.
The most important part of the treatment is the surgery. Performed by a skilled, qualified surgeon it makes children with a cleft lip look “normal” again. If there is also a cleft palate, at least one further operation is required. An untreated cleft palate has serious consequences: the children cannot eat and drink properly and speak with difficulty.
Every treatment is documented on site with personal data on the child, diagnosis, therapy, before and after pictures as well as background information on the family and the doctor treating them. The patient database is an important tool for us. We only reimburse the treatment costs to our project partners when the documentation has been submitted and checked by us. This takes place about two to six weeks after the procedure.
We also use the database to give our donors a glimpse into our work. If you assume a surgical sponsorship for a child, you will learn which child has been operated on thanks to your support. This way you can experience up close what your donation achieves.
“I am always touched by how we are able to change a child’s life for the better. We want to mobilize people to get involved with us and to join our aid network. Together we can achieve great things.”
Prof. Dr. med. Frank Feyerherd,
Anesthesiologist and DCKH volunteer board member
We invest continuously in the expansion of our projects, with an eye on long-term development. Our focus countries are Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, India, Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam. They are grouped together under the roof of the Cleft Group. Aid for cleft children is organized independently in each country; operations, information events and other project country-specific content are communicated via their own country websites.