Block ID: #section–hero-color-block_5f2adaaf6abf8
Block ID: #section–text-block_5f2adb4b6abf9

Cleft child Matias from Bolivia: Cleft surgery in times of Corona

Matias is born on August 4, 2019 in the province of Ingavi, near lake Titicaca. He receives his first surgery, for his cleft lip, in February 2020 from our surgeon Dr. Mamani. Dr. Mamani is based in La Paz, where he heads one of our three projects in Bolivia. Just before the global Coronavirus lockdown puts a stop to all our surgeries the experienced pediatric surgeon closes Matias’ cleft lip.

Then life in Bolivia comes to a standstill for three months. In a country where almost half of the population lives in poverty, this has dramatic consequences for many. Matia’s father works as a day laborer on construction sites. Suddenly he can no longer earn money, can no longer feed his family. In addition, there is also the fear for his youngest son: Matias’ still needs his palate surgery. Dr. Mamani and his team had explained to the parents after the lip surgery how important it is that the palate is also closed in a second operation. But because of the pandemic, they at first have no idea when the surgery can be done. An untreated cleft palate causes many health problems, especially in small children. The children cannot breathe and swallow properly, so it is difficult for them to eat.

Block ID: #section–image-block_5f2addd9fc8c0
Block ID: #section–text-block_5f2addeefc8c1

During this difficult time Nora, the psychologist of our Bolivian team, looks after the families. She is in regular contact with Matias parents by phone. In early June, she finally brings the long-awaited good news: Matias can have his surgery! The operation takes place under strict protective measures. Working under these conditions is hard work for the team: The new hygiene regulations are complex and take a lot of time. Still, everyone is happy that they can finally help the children again!

Matias’ second operation goes as well as the first. When he comes to aftercare a week later, Dr. Mamani is very satisfied. While still in his first year of life, Matias has both important surgical interventions behind him. He has recently also received speech therapy. This is very important for an optimal treatment result in children with cleft palate. Dr. Mamani follows this interdisciplinary approach with great conviction and persistence. We are happy for Matias and the many other cleft children in Bolivia we can give access to comprehensive therapy – for a good start into a new life.

Block ID: #section–cleft-color-block-with-columns-text-block_6221257bc098f
Five good reasons to donate for cleft children
We dedicate ourselves to a single cause: Treating children with cleft lip and palate. In our project countries, we offer direct medical help for the needy patients and their families. Measurable in the number of surgeries offered.
Whereever the situation in our project countries allows, we fund additional necessary followup therapies beyond the surgeries, such as speech therapy or orthodontics.
Every treatment is documented by our doctors in the project countries in our patient database and verified by us. This way we know that the donations entrusted to us are used properly.
Our goal always is to build sustainable, independently functioning structures in our project countries. To achieve this, we build up long-term partnerships and keep in close touch with our local partners.
The German Central Institute for Social Matters (DZI) certifies that we use the donations entrusted to us responsibly and properly manner. We have held this certificate continuously since 2012.
Block ID: #section–line-buttons-block_62212820c0996
From our projects
The story of Maui, cleft child from Colombia
Our new project to help children with cleft lip and palate in Colombia begins with a very unusual case. Maui was born with a cleft lip and palate. His parents belong to an indigenous people and do not know how to get him the help he needs. By a happy coincidence, Julia, a Swiss woman living in Colombia, is a neighbor of the family and offers to help. In search of treatment options, she comes across Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe.
Video: Impressions from Bolivia
The parents of our cleft children are always full of gratitude. When their child is born with cleft, they often do not know what to make of the malformation, much less that it can be treated. And even if they do - most of our little patients come from the poorest of backgrounds. Their parents could never afford the operation. It is an unimaginable happiness for them to learn that their children can receive qualified treatment, and free of charge even. This wonderful, touching film from our Bolivian aid project captures these special moments of happiness.
Video: Impressions from Pakistan
This film, made for our Pakistani partner organization, the Al-Mustafa Welfare Societey, by the father of one of our patients, shows scenes from our work in Karachi. From here, our senior surgeon Prof. Ashraf Ganatra treats cleft children from poorest families. He operates the children from Karachi at the Al Mustafa Medical Center. In order to reach the many needy families living outside the city, he also regularly heads out to local provincial hospitals to treat cleft patients there.