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Wilian and Yeison – twins from Peru

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Every treatment we provide changes the lives of a patient and their loved ones. Our patients are often children who do not understand why they have it so much harder in many respects than their playmates and friends. So it is all the more touching for us when we get a chance to see how these children are living their lives after their operation. One such case is that of the twins Wilian and Yeison Quispe from Peru. Our long-time Peruvian partner, surgeon Dr. Alberto Bardales, visited them at their home recently, seven years after their last surgery.

Wilian and Yeison live with their parents Fredy and Eliza at an altitude of 3,328 m in the rural community of Huacapunco in the Andean district of Colquepata in the southeast of our project country Peru. They are descendants of South American indigenous people who speak Quechua instead of Spanish. They make their living from agriculture, breeding sheep, guinea pigs and chickens. Once a week, Fredy rides his bicycle to the village to sell produce at the market. Most of the people in this remote region three hours from Cusco are very poor and live in the simplest of conditions. The houses are made of mud, the water comes from a river. The winters are cold and uncomfortable.

Eliza tells Dr. Bardales the family’s story: when the couple learns that Eliza is pregnant, they are very excited about their first child. They are not able to go to the hospital for check-ups – there is none locally, and the trip to the city is long and expensive. Eliza’s pregnancy goes smoothly, but her belly gets bigger and bigger. They start to suspect they may be expecting twins. They go to the hospital for the birth in July 2013 – very fortunate for both mother and children: The twins have to be delivered by cesarean section.

All goes well, but mixed in with the relief is shock: the babies have “mouths split in half.” The diagnosis: both boys have a bilateral cleft lip and a severe cleft palate.


We thought that lightning had struck our children, or witchcraft… we didn’t know what to do. Wilian and Yeison couldn’t drink milk properly. They cried a lot… we suffered a lot. We were desperate. We asked the doctors and they told us that it was a malformation called cleft lip and palate and that there was a solution and that help would come. Some people in the community and in the city told us to hide Wilian and Yeison and even abandon them. We covered their faces so that no one could see them. We were very sad… we cried a lot.

– Eliza Quispe, Wilian und Yeison’s mother

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Help in a difficult situation

Eliza and Fredy cry a lot and are afraid that Wilian and Yeison might die. At the local health clinic, nurses show Eliza special feeding techniques for babies with cleft lip and palate. “Little by little, we learned how to feed them…and our babies gained weight.”

Now that the immediate danger has passed, Eliza and Fredy can think about what to do next. The local clinic registers Wilian and Yeison as cleft patients. Mitsee, a psychologist from our partner organization Qorito, meets with Fredy in Cusco. She tells him about our aid program and gives him a date when the Qorito team will come to Cusco from Lima to treat Wilian and Yeison.

“We traveled by bus to the regional hospital in Cusco. They explained everything to us calmly and in our Quechua language. We just hoped for our babies to  get help.”

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The young family during patient registration for the twins’ first surgeries.
After the lip surgeries.
When the surgery is done at a very young age, the scars become all but invisible as the children grow.
Seven years after the last sugery, Dr. Bardales arrives in Huacapunco to visit the twins and their family.
Saying hello – Dr. Bardales gives his former patient a hug.
Dr. Bardales with the twins.
The sheep they raise in this stark and beautiful landscape help secure the family’s living.
Dr. Bardales with the twins’ grandparents.
Dr. Bardales resting in Huacapunco.
Wilian und Yeison can now live their lives free from the health consequences of untreated clefts.
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A happy ending

In 2014 and 2015, our surgeon Dr. Alberto Bardales successfully closed the babies’ cleft lips and palates. “Their wounds healed… and they could smile and so could we,” Eliza tells us with relief. “We also got advice from the psychologists and speech therapists, and we were very happy for their help. Now we and our children are happy. We live as a family here in the village. I want to thank God and the Peruvian doctors of Qorito and the people from Germany (DCKH) for their support… thank you for helping our people.

Since the surgeries, the children have integrated well into the community and are no longer marginalized. Thanks to the skilled surgeon, nothing remains visible of their clefts today. The twins have developed well and go to school in a village nearby on foot. On the day Dr. Bardales visits, they happened to have stayed home to tend the sheep and help their parents with the oat harvest.

Like many cleft patients, Wilian and Yeison would benefit from speech therapy to improve their pronunciation. Speech therapy is part of a comprehensive cleft therapy, which we work towards offering in all of our project countries. Their teeth are also in very poor condition, which is unfortunately very common in the region, even in children born without clefts. During Dr. Bardale’s latest aid mission in Cusco, shortly after his visit, a dentist has now also treated the twins’ teeth.

Wilian and Yeison are now nine years old and can look forward to living a normal life – a life that is not possible for many children with untreated clefts. We rejoice with them and the many children like them whom we have been able to help so far. For making this possible, we thank our many doctors, therapists and organizers in the project countries and, of course, our many many donors in Germany and around the world.



From our projects
Visit to our cleft treatment project in Pakistan
Helping the children with cleft malformation treated in our cleft treatment project in Karachi live their best lives is the overarching goal of our three-year BMZ funding project. To evaluate the project, a team from Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe traveled to Pakistan in early 2023. An exciting trip with intense, touching impressions of the successful work done by our Pakistani partners.
Project visit Sierra Leone
Many people in Sierra Leone are affected by extreme poverty. This also means very poor conditions and little hope for treatment for those who give birth to a child with cleft lip here. Now our long-time volunteer supporters and Africa project leaders, the highly qualified surgeons Dr. Dr. Oliver Blume and Gunther Au-Balbach, visited the country to establish contacts for a new cleft project and to provide care to the first patients.
December 2022: Project visit in Vietnam
Our help for children with cleft lip and palate would be impossible without our network of helpers. In addition to many local surgeons and other medical professionals in the partner countries, this network also includes volunteers who support our local teams with passion and skill. An intercultural exchange that is enriching for both sides. The work in our project country Vietnam has been accompanied since 2016 by the Munich doctors Dr. Denys J Loeffelbein and Dr. Daniel Lonic. In December 2022, the two visited their colleagues and friends in Vietnam again for the first time since the pandemic.
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.