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Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V. – 20 years of help for cleft children!

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Today, September 11, 2022, we are celebrating a milestone birthday: Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe turns 20! On September 11, 2002, Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V. was founded in a living room in Freiburg. Our goal from day one: to provide comprehensive and reliable help for children with cleft lip and palate in developing countries. This is what we are committed to – with passion, creativity and all our strength.

In addition to Cameroon, our initial project was India, where our aid has since developed particularly impressively: from the initial 986 surgeries provided to Indian cleft patients in 2003, the project has grown to 26 locations and more than 3,000 operations per year today. India is now our largest project country. But we also operate large and successful projects in many other countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bolivia, Vietnam and Peru, which we are constantly developing. We are able to do this thanks to our numerous loyal donors, some of whom have been with us for almost as long as our association exists – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


Twenty years of Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V. are characterized by consistency and constant development in equal measure. Several of our founding members continue to work to provide our help for cleft children to this day: Stefan Rivald, Nicole Reinbold and Alexander Gross (pictured, from left to right). Another founding member who supports and guides our help for children with cleft lip and palate to this day is the anesthesiologist Prof. Frank Feyerherd. He accompanied our help in Cameroon from 2003 to 2014 as an anesthetist and is now a volunteer member of our board.

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We have made ourselves a small present for our birthday: After twenty years, we thought it was time to rejuvenate our appearance a bit with a new logo design, which you may have already noticed. We also have other plans to celebrate our milestone anniversary, for example a festive benefit concert with the Daimler Symphony Orchestra in Filderstadt this November.

We have been able to continuously expand our activities over the past 20 years thanks to loyal donors and committed partners in the project countries. After India and Cameroon, other project countries were gradually added – most recently Somalia and Nicaragua. In 2021, our teams in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Rwanda carried out nearly 7,000 operations. Overall, we were able to provide more than 60,000 operations over the last twenty years. We are humbled and overjoyed by every child whose life we ​​have been able to change for the better by providing him or her access to the quality medical care they needed for their cleft.


The operation of their cleft lip or palate changes our patients’ entire life – how other people react to them, how intelligbly they can speak or even things as basic as how easily they can eat and drink. Dharati was one of our first patients in India. Today she is 21 years old and has been living without a cleft for two decades thanks to our Indian doctors and our German donors. We would have liked to present you with an up-to-date picture of her, but unfortunately we couldn’t find her. We hope she’s doing well and wish her all the best for her future.

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What are our plans for the next 20 years? We will remain true to our core principles that have made us so successful in the first 20 years of our work. These are:

  • Our focus on a concrete, tangible goal – helping children with cleft lip and palate in developing countries.
  • Working towards high-quality treatment with the necessary follow-up therapies with the goal of offering comprehensive cleft therapy.
  • A transparent and serious handling of the funds entrusted to us – certified with the renowned DZI seal.
  • Sustainable help that systematically develops specialist knowledge and organizational structures in the partner countries so that patients have long-term contacts and high-quality treatment options on site.

We would be honored and delighted if you chose to accompany us on our journey. Thank you for your interest in our work and here’s to the next 20 years!

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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.