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BILD hilft e. V. funds surgeries for cleft children in Pakistan for a second year

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We are happy and grateful to announce that BILD hilft e.V., the charity of the German newspaper BILD, has renewed its support of our work for cleft children in Pakistan for a second year.

Some 10,000 children with cleft lip and palate are thought to be born in Pakistan every year. Only about half of these children are lucky enough to have a surgery to repair their cleft: There are not enough surgeons who are trained in cleft lip and palate surgery, and many affected families lack the financial means to pay for it. We began our work in Pakistan in 2013. Since 2016, we have been working with the renowned surgeon Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Ganatra.

Thanks to him and the our supporters’ funding, we were able to significantly expand our work in Pakistan. Prof. Ganatra and his team carry out some 800 operations per year. The operations take place at the Al-Mustafa Medical Center in Karachi and in provincial hospitals outside of Karachi.

Reliable local structures

The cooperation with Prof. Ganatra has also proven itself during the Coronavirus pandemic: Many organizations whose work relies on foreign teams travelling into the country had to reduce, or in some cases completely cease their activities due to travel restrictions. Thanks to our fully locally-based structures, we were able to continue our work for the cleft children of Pakistan.

Treatments beyond the surgeries, such as speech therapy and orthodontics, had for a long time only been possible in isolated cases. Together with Prof. Ganatra, we are now pursuing the goal of building a comprehensive treatment center for affected children in Pakistan. In addition to the support of BILD hilft e.V., the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is providing even more funding to enable further treatments such as speech therapy, ear, nose and throat medicine, orthodontics and psychosocial care. The aim is to set up a cleft center in which the children are cared for on an interdisciplinary basis.

More help is urgently needed

The best treatment results are achieved when the cleft children receive their surgeries at a very young age. But Prof. Ganatra and his team often encounter older, untreated children, whose families were not able to secure treatment for them earlier. This shows that we sorely need even more support for cleft children in Pakistan. Because many children have no access to qualified treatment and in the worst case have to live with their malformation into adulthood. An early operation is particularly important for successful comprehensive treatment and, above all, for life development. The support of BILD hilft e. V. in combination with BMZ funding represents an important milestone for the development of our project in Pakistan.

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Fida Hussain: one of the children in Pakistan treated by Prof. Ganatra and his team.
At home with Fida Hussain.
During patient intake, before the surgery.
Prof. Ganatra with a cleft child before surgery.
The team and Prof. Ganatra: highly motivated!
The cleft children are in the best hands with our team.
Surgery is about to begin.
Closeup of the cleft repair.
A big sister with a little cleft child.
Cleft children from poor families have it particularly hard.
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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
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.