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An exciting year – The DCKH Annual Report 2021

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It is with great pleasure that we announce the publication of the Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe Annual Report 2021. The year 2021 was very exciting for us. In 2020, the pandemic had a massive impact on our work. Many of our project countries were hit very hard, and many cleft surgeries had to be cancelled due to lockdowns, overburdened hospitals, and lack of medical supplies. This meant that thousands of children who we would otherwise have been able to treat were left without treatment and had to live with their untreated clefts – sad and stressful for the children and their families, and frustrating for us as people who want to help.

In 2021, we were then faced with the question of whether these new difficulties would be the norm from now on, or whether things would get better. And fortunately things developed more than positively! Our final tally for the year 2021, for which our annual report is now available in German and English, is 6878 cleft operations – more even than in 2019, the last year before the pandemic.


More children receiving care than ever

In India, we succeeded in offering over 3000 cleft surgeries for the first time ever in 2021. Our project in Bangladesh is developing very dynamically, with two new young surgeons in training and almost 1500 operations provided to patients. Our partners in Pakistan provided over 1000 surgeries to their patients and expanded their offerings of additional therapies in the spirit of comprehensive cleft care. In Bolivia, with now four partner teams, we are one of the main providers of care for cleft children from poor families in the country. And there have also been exciting developments in Peru, Vietnam, East Africa and Afghanistan.

But our help is made possible not only abroad, but also here in Germany. Our annual report is also a chance to give thanks to the German donors and volunteers who make our work possible in the first place. We introduce a few and say “Thank you!” from the bottom of our hearts to them and all the many, many others.

We hope you and perhaps your loved ones will enjoy an entertaining and colorful look at our work in 2021!


Looking ahead

In 2021, thanks to our tireless and dedicated staff in the project countries and our generous donors, we have been able to once again expand and deepen our ability to help children with cleft lip and palate around the world. We now go into our 20th anniversary this fall with great confidence and curiosity about what lies ahead. A very heartfelt thank you! to you for your interest in our work and we wish you an exciting read!

The annual report is available as a PDF in German and English.

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DCKH-Jahresbericht 2021 in German
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DCKH Annual Report 2021 in English
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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.