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Happy little Sheyla from Bolivia

On August 11, 2017, Sheyla is born in Mojinte, a village of almost 500 people in the highlands of the Bolivian Andes. Her mother Jhesica was only 16 years old at the time. Jhesica only realized that something was wrong with Sheyla when she held her daughter in her arms for the first time: A large cleft extended from the left upper lip to the nose. The young mother then learns from the doctors that Sheyla also has a cleft palate. Sheyla has received three surgeries since then. At the time of the first operation (for the lip and nose), Sheyla was nine months old, and the palate surgery was performed in October 2018. The last operation, to correct the nose, was carried out in May 2019.

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A good life for Sheyla

When Jhesica recounts her story, it is hard to believe that she is only 18 years old. The young woman has been through a lot. Because of her pregnancy, the then 16-year-old had to drop out of school one year before graduation. The child’s father deserts her before the birth. Fortunately, her family stands with her during this difficult time. From her mother, she learns that there is a history of clefts in the family on the paternal side. Jhesica’s grandmother had twins, her aunt two sons with cleft lip and palate. All four died shortly after birth. Jhesica is shocked, and scared that her little daughter will suffer the same fate. She knows from the doctors that the malformation can be treated by surgery. But not in Mojinte, the family’s home village. There is only a small health center there, without cleft surgeons. Besides that, the family could never afford the treatment.

It was a happy coincidence that Jhesica became aware of our offer of free cleft treatment, which turned the fate of her little girl for the better. Today Sheyla is a happy, confident girl – the sunshine of the whole family.

And Sheyla’s story has another happy ending: During Sheyla’s treatments, Sheyla’s mother and our psychologist David got to know each other – and fell in love! Today they are a couple and Sheyla now has a little sister.


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Sheyla in her patient intake picture before her first surgery…
… and afterwards
Sheyla is a cheerful girl.
Happy little Sheyla after the surgery.
Sheyla and her mother sharing a moment of joy during Sheyla’s second hospital stay.
After three successful surgeries: Sheyla with her mother.
Happy ending: Sheyla with David and her mom.
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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.
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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.