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A step forward for our cleft children: Resuming surgeries in Afghanistan

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A ray of hope for cleft children in Afghanistan

The Taliban’s assumption of power in August 2021 brought many changes to the lives of the people of Afghanistan. For us, there was uncertainty about whether or how we would be able to continue our work to help cleft children in Afghanistan. We are therefore very happy to announce that one of our local surgeons from Mazar-e-Sharif has been able to resume her work after a forced break lasting several months. Despite the still difficult conditions, she provided surgery to nine children with clefts this May. This is still less care than we used to be able to provide to the cleft children of Afghanistan, but it is still precious childrens’ lives changed for the better, and we hope to provide care to many more in the coming months.


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Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe has been providing care in Afghanistan since 2010. Some 2,500 children with cleft lip are born in Afghanistan every year. Under the previous government, those affected who could not afford the surgical procedure themselves had the opportunity to have it performed free of charge at one of our three project locations. Even in the pandemic year of 2021, our four local surgeons were able to perform 80 operations until the fall of the government in August – a great success during such a turbulent time for Afghanistan.

The situation in the country regarding availability of medical care for cleft children has never been easy and is unlikely to improve fundamentally anytime soon, despite our best efforts. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that our ability to help Afghan cleft children will improve further. Our surgeon in Masar-e-Scharif has taken a first and important step – we support her as much as we can and say “thank you” from the bottom of our hearts for her work and dedication!

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.