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Aid for cleft children in West Bengal

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Aid for cleft children in West Bengal

Dr. Swarnav Patnaik heads our new cleft project in Raiganj. He lives in the neighboring state of Odisha. Once a month he and his team travel to Raiganj to help cleft children. Our partner hospital is the Mikkymegha Hospital. Here, two operating tables are available to Dr. Smarnav and his team for the relief effort – ideal conditions in order to be able to perform as many operations as possible. Volunteers go out into the communities to find the patients. These so-called “guides” are networked well in the region. Through these networks they are made aware of cleft children who have not yet had an operation. The majority of patients only speak Bengali. For them, the “guides” also help as translators, because Dr. Swarnav and his team only speak Oriya, the official language of their home state, Odisha, and English.

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Dr. Swarnav heads the aid project in Raiganj.
Mothers await their childrens’ treatment
Many patients are waiting to be treated at the second aid mission in Raiganj.
Cleft children wait cheerfully …
… along with their mothers …
… and fathers.
Dr. Swarnav at work.
Happy before the surgery.
And somewhat bedraggled afterwards. But his surgery went well, and he will soon smile again!
58 received surgery in Raiganj in February.
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Unmet need

There are few treatment options available for cleft patients in the region. The demand is correspondingly large: 85 patients had registered for our second aid mission in Raiganj. From February 11th to 14th, Dr. Swarnav and his team are hard at work. Every day of surgery begins early in the morning and ends late in the evening. 58 treated children are the positive result of the four-day assignment. For most children, it is the first surgery to close the cleft lip. Lip surgery usually takes place in the first year of life. Many of the children treated in Raiganj however are older and have gone without treatment for a long time, a clear indication of the lack of help available in the region previously.

Raiganj is our second location in West Bengal. In 2018 we opened a cleft center in Kolkata. In Kolkata, children receive comprehensive care beyond surgery with speech therapy and orthodontics. In Kolkata and Raiganj we want to carry out around 1,500 operations in 2021. Besides Varanasi, our two locations in West Bengal are the three largest of our total of 26 Indian locations.

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.