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June 9: Cleft children in La Paz, Bolivia, can receive treatment again

After three months the lockdown in Bolivia is now slowly easing. On June 9, Dr. Adolfo Mamani treated the first five patients in La Paz whose surgery had to be postponed due to Corona. Of course with new safety and hygiene standards to protect the patients and their families as well as his own team from Corona. The parents of our patients have been waiting eagerly for this moment. They are very happy and grateful that their children have now finally been treated. The speech therapy and psychological treatments of our patients in La Paz are now also taking place again. For patients who live far away and cannot come to La Paz for therapy due to the still limited transport options, our therapists offer online sessions with zoom.

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Our team Jiwaqui in La Paz is operating on patients with new protective clothes now
Carlos is one of the first five patients that could be operated on on the first day of surgery since corona crisis has started
Carlos’ parents are waiting anxiously while Dr. Mamani is operating their son
Carlo’s mother is very happy that her son is fine after the surgery
The nurse explains to Carlo’s mother what she has to pay attention to when feeding shortly after the surgery
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May 26: Our Vietnamese partner organization OSCA resumes cleft surgeries

Vietnam has managed to stop the spread of the corona virus with a strict two and a half month lockdown, which ended three weeks ago. Ever since, our partner organization OSCA in Hanoi has again been treating cleft patients under the leadership of the experienced surgeon Dr. Ai. Chi is one of the little patients. Her surgery had been scheduled for April and had to be postponed indefinitely because of the lockdown. Her parents were very concerned that their daughter might not be able to receive treatment at all. They are all the happier now that things went so quickly after all, and that Chi’s procedure went well. Dr. Ai was able to operate 15 children in the past three weeks. Usually there are a maximum of ten patients per month, but the lockdown created a backlog of waiting patients. Currently, 40 children are still on the waiting list and will receive their treatment as soon as possible.

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Cleft child Chi from Vietnam was able to get her surgery despite the Corona epidemic.
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May 19, 2020: Dr. Zaman organizes food aid in Bangladesh

Crises demand and promote creativity. The best example of this is our longstanding partner Dr. Zaman. In his hometown Dhaka, the surgeon started a private relief campaign, financed by donations from his international circle of friends and acquaintances.

The country has been in a total lockdown since March 26, and the number of cases is increasing daily. Countless people from all walks of life have suddenly become unemployed. This affects the poor particularly hard: they have no more money to support their families. To help these people, Dr. Zaman has sprung into action. In his garage, volunteers help pack food for the needy. This includes rice, lentils, eggs, onions, potatoes and cooking oil. 1,200 families have already been able to receive this aid from Dr. Zaman! He intends to continue this work, since an improvement in the situation in Bangladesh is currently not foreseeable.

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Mai 5th, 2020: protective masks for our teams in Bangladesh

The corona crisis hits poor countries especially hard. Their already limited medical infrastructure is quickly overwhelmed. This is the case, for example, in Bangladesh, one of our main project countries. Our longstanding partner surgeon Dr. Zaman reports on the current situation:

“The lockdown was extended until May 16, with many new cases being reported every day, especially many from the capital Dhaka and also from Narayanganj. The number of unreported cases is high because we have far too few tests. And no staff, no laboratories to carry out the tests, not enough ventilators and not enough protective equipment for the medical workers who are in great danger as they help the infected. Lockdown is a terrible situation for poor families: to protect themselves from the virus, they would have to stay at home . But that means no income, no food. So many people in Bangladesh are now hungry. What is particularly hard on me is that I cannot help my patients. They cannot get their scheduled operations. There is no public transport, the few hospitals are overcrowded with Covid 19 patients. I can only listen to their concerns on the phone.”


“It is good to know that there are people who think of us in this difficult time. I would like to thank Dr. Ulrike Lamlé from the bottom of my heart for the FFP2 protective masks for our teams. A big thank you also to Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe and the many donors from Germany. Thank you for not forgetting us. The children need our help now more than ever! “

Dr. Zaman, pictured with Dr. Ulrike Lamlé, our volunteer project manager Bangladesh

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April 22, 2020: Speech therapy continues in India

In six of our Indian cleft centers, we are able to offer our patients speech and functional therapy. The chief therapist is Lakshmi Godavarthi from Visakhapatnam. By video, she instructs her colleagues how speech therapy can continue safely, despite the lockdown. The involvement and participation of parents play an important role in this. If they have access to the Internet, therapy sessions with the children are possible via Skype, Zoom, or WhatsApp. That is the most convenient option. If this is not possible, the parents are given an audio call to show them how to do exercises with their children at home. Getting the information across is not always easy because many of our patients’ parents cannot read or write.

In this video, Lakshmi shows her colleagues how to communicate with parents so that the children’s therapy does not completely come to a halt:

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April 14, 2020: Lockdown in India extended until May 3

The lockdown in India is entering its second phase and will be extended until May 3 for now. This has dramatic consequences for our cleft children, the majority of whom live in great poverty. Many families currently cannot work and thus support the basic needs of their families. “Social Distancing” is hardly possible when entire families live in a single room, poor hygienic conditions pose an additional danger. Our local doctors try to keep in touch with their patients via online media. The team in Kolkata discusses upcoming operations or follow-up therapies with the parents of their little patients via WhatsApp video.

Our lead speech therapist Lakshmi from Visakhapatnam conducts online speech therapy sessions with some of her patients and exchanges experiences with her  colleagues from other Indian treatment centers.

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Speech therapist Lakshmi during an online therapy session
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March 10, 2020: early measures in the fight against Corona

As a medical aid organization, we are very aware of our responsibility in this crisis. We have a responsibility towards our many partners and employees in the project countries, and of course towards our patients. This is what informs our reaction to the developing crisis. Even early on, when the full extent of the crisis had not become apparent yet, we postponed various scheduled training activities: a surgical simulator training planned for our young surgeons from India and Bangladesh in February, and further training for two of our Afghan surgeons at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan. Our annual training workshop in Vietnam, which should have taken place in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in May under the direction of our two German surgeons Daniel Lonic and Denys Loeffelbein, has been tentatively rescheduled to autumn due to the current situation. We hope to soon be able to resume our work and make up for the lost time.

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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.