Transforming Faces Blog

Lives Transformed: Meet Gelgelo from Ethiopia

November 26th, 2015 by

DSC05690 (2)One-year-old Gelgelo Boru was born with cleft lip in rural Ethiopia. His family is from the same community as another one of our patients, Chala. Chala and Gelgelo’s mothers were very happy to encounter a travelling plastic surgeon while he was on a mission in the Bale-Oromia region. He told them about the cleft care centre at our partner hospital, Yekatit 12. Together, Chala and Gelgelo’s mothers travelled to the capital city where they were able to promptly schedule their sons for cleft lip repair surgeries. Gelgelo’s mother was thrilled after his operation was completed.

Both Chala and Gelgelo will be able to receive follow-up care at Yekatit 12. Thanks to the care they have received, they will have the chance at a full, happy life.

GelGelo - Ethiopia


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Donate today to transform the life of a child like Gelgelo!

Between November 22 and December 1, 2015 (GivingTuesday), we are asking for donations of $10 or more to fund the cost of surgery and rehabilitation for 10 more children with cleft lip and palate. Get into the spirit of giving and help #TransformTen today!

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Our Fall Newsletter is Now Available!

November 16th, 2015 by

Fall Newsletter Image


Our Fall 2015 Newsletter is now available for download. Get the latest updates on our international partners, projects, events and much more!

Highlights in this issue:

  • A tribute to our departing Executive Director, Esteban Lasso
  • 3,600 lives transformed in Ghana
  • Speech therapy curriculum approved in Ethiopia
  • Meet Muoy from Myanmar
  • $12,000 raised at Salsa for Smiles

Download your Fall 2015 Newsletter now!

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Host Your Own Spice Bucket Challenge

November 13th, 2015 by

Salsa For Smiles - 2015-137This holiday season, turn up the heat by hosting your very own Spice Bucket Challenge fundraiser!

The Spice Bucket Challenge involves eating a series of extra-hot, eye-watering salsas. It was first launched at our Salsa for Smiles event in October and, as you can see from the photos, was a huge success! Now we’re calling on YOU to put your taste buds to the test by hosting your own Spice Bucket Challenge at home or at work.

Spice Bucket Challenge - Blog

How does it work?

The Spice Bucket Challenge involves challenging a friend or colleague to test 3-5 extra hot salsas consecutively. If they make it through the challenge in one piece, you donate $5. If they are unable to complete the challenge, they pay $5. 100% of proceeds will be directed to our international cleft care programs to support children born with cleft lip and palate!

What do I need?Salsa For Smiles - 2015-128

Hosting a Spice Bucket Challenge is simple. All you need are 3-5 salsas ranging in heat according to the Scoville scale and nacho chips. If you want to really spice up your event, you could also considering having some treats to extinguish the fire such as frozen grapes or whipped cream, and some salsa music.

Note: We can provide a few salsas to get you started (while supplies last). Please get in touch if you would like to receive some complimentary salsa generously donated by Hot Sauces Unlimited!

How can I host my own event?

Check out our Spice Bucket Challenge Fundraising Kit for detailed information on how to host your own event at home, at work or through social media.



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Transform 10 Lives this GivingTuesday

November 3rd, 2015 by


GivingTuesday is just under a month away! This year, get into the spirit of giving by helping us transform the lives of 10 children with cleft lip and palate. Our new campaign, #TransformTen, aims to raise $2,200 in 10 days to support life-changing surgery and rehabilitation for 10 children.



What is GivingTuesday? 

GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back that takes place on the first Tuesday in December each year. It encourages you to make a difference in your community, whether its by making a donation, lending your voice to a cause or volunteering your time. This year, GivingTuesday will take place on December 1.

What will the TransformTen campaign involve?

For the 10 day period leading up to GivingTuesday (November 22 to December 1), we will be sharing daily stories of children whose lives have dramatically improved thanks to cleft lip and palate care. You will learn about the struggles they have faced, how they have overcome them, and how their lives have been transformed thanks to the treatment they have received.

Our hope is that, with your support, we can raise enough funds to support the same transformation for 10 new patients this holiday season.

How much does this life-changing care cost? 

Surgery and follow-up rehabilitation costs approximately $220 for one child. Our goal is to raise $2,200 to cover the cost of treatment for 10 children. 100% of all donations go directly to our programs.

Why support cleft lip and palate treatment? 

2015-03-11 13.03.19 (2)Cleft lip and palate is one of the world’s most common birth anomalies, affecting roughly one in 700 children. The condition affects not only the child’s appearance, but also their speech, hearing, nutrition and ability to develop socially.

Cleft lip and palate is treatable using a comprehensive approach which involves a team of medical specialists. Transforming Faces aims to make this care available locally, to all children who need it, for as long as they need.  This care improves children’s physical and psychological health dramatically; they’re able to eat, speak and hear better, they’re able to participate in social settings without fear of discrimination, and they have a chance to live their lives to the fullest.

How can you support the #TransformTen campaign?

Make a donation – For as little as $10, you can help #TransformTen.  

Spread the word – Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and help share the #TransformTen campaign with friends and family!

Inform yourselfLearn more about cleft lip and palate, and how it affects a child’s life.




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Dr. Mekonen Speaks about Surgical Equipment in Ethiopia

October 28th, 2015 by

In Ethiopia, our cleft care team currently relies on old, outdated medical equipment that was donated over a decade ago. This makes performing safe surgeries increasingly difficult and puts patients at unnecessary risk.

In response, Transforming Faces is seeking your help to purchase vital new surgical equipment including an electrosurgery machine, monitoring device, anaesthesia machine and suction machine. Thanks to your generosity to date, we have already raised $20,000 but we still have a long way to go!

Hear from the head of our cleft lip and palate program in Ethiopia, Dr. Mekonen Esthete. In addition to leading the country’s only comprehensive cleft care centre, Dr. Mekonen is also a reconstructive surgeon.

On behalf of Dr. Mekonen and the entire team at Yekatit 12, thank you for helping transform lives in Ethiopia! If you would like to support this campaign, please click here to donate or learn more.

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