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.
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.
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:
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!