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Transforming Faces Blog
Christiana Adubea Obuobi was born with a cleft lip and palate in March 2013 in the Volta Region of Ghana. With no prior incidence of cleft in the family’s history and limited awareness of the condition, Christiana’s parents, Grace and Edward, were extremely scared and unsure of where to turn. Thankfully, the hospital notified the family about the cleft care project at TF’s partner facility, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
It has been a tough journey for Christiana and her family. Because of strong social stigma against cleft lip and palate, Grace said she didn’t allow her friends to see Christiana until after the surgeries were completed. Grace’s relatives also insisted she wait to christen her daughter until her cleft had been repaired. So when Christiana’s cleft lip and palate were repaired in February 2014 and June 2014 respectively, it came as a huge relief to her parents.
While Christiana’s surgeries were successful, she and her family still face a long road ahead. She has begun speaking but has difficulty pronouncing words clearly. Christiana is scheduled to attend a panel clinic and begin receiving speech therapy at Korle Bu very soon.
Lah Sornmanee was born with a cleft lip and palate in Udom Village, Bokeo Province in Laos. He is the youngest of three children and his father works in construction earning just over $800 per year. When Lah was ten months old, he was admitted to our Thai partner project to have his cleft lip and cleft palate repaired.
Three months after Lah’s second surgery, he began receiving speech therapy. After a speech assessment in December 2011, Lah started visiting a mobile speech unit, and getting regular dental and ear assessments. In 2014, Lah was recruited to the speech camp at Bokeo Hospital, near the Thai-Laotian Border and there he continues to receive speech support.
Speech camps are an innovative short-term solution to address the lack of trained speech language pathologists and speech development services in Thailand and Laos. While Thailand has one of the highest cleft incidences in the world, the country only has 108 trained speech pathologists and of these, only six are based in the northern region.
Thanks to participation in speech camps and ongoing support from his mother, Mrs. Jansee, Lah’s speech has dramatically improved. Today, at four-and-a-half years old, Lah is described as a very happy boy who’s always smiling and eager to make new friends.
In Ethiopia, there is a severe shortage of qualified speech therapists and a lack of awareness about a comprehensive approach to cleft care. In response, TF’s speech therapist and assistant speech therapist partners at Yekatit 12 hospital organized a speech therapy outreach program for medical professionals, patients and their families.
The outreach program took place from December 1 to 5, 2014 at the Chesire Services Ethiopia compound in Dire Dawa. Chesire Services Ethiopia is a non-profit dedicated to providing orthopedic and social support for children with disabilities. Together, they were able to create a safe and comfortable environment to provide speech therapy assessments for postoperative patients and training for medical professionals working in the field of cleft care and disability.
Many patients took part in week-long speech therapy assessments and treatment. Of this group, six were existing patients at Yekatit 12. All the patients were happy to be involved and very receptive to the therapy provided. During lunchtime, patients also had the opportunity to socialize with their therapists and one another with games of frisbee and volleyball.
As part of the program, awareness training was also provided to nearly 30 participants made up of physiotherapists, ortho-technicians, community rehabilitation workers, social welfare workers and others from Dire Dawa, Project Harar and other community organizations.
The patients and trainees involved were all very engaged in the program and felt that it was a positive experience. Many of these participants expressed a desire to bring what they learned back to their respective communities and further raise awareness about speech therapy, and the services offered at Yekatit 12.
Training and outreach initiatives like this one that bring members of the community together is key to improving multidisciplinary cleft care services in Ethiopia. Mesay, TF’s partner speech therapist notes that “[rehabilitation] is the combined effort of professionals, community, local and international institutions, the government and many others that bring change in the lives of persons with disabilities.”
Recently, our Peruvian partner program kusiROSTROS hosted its 4th Annual Health and Education Day for families of children with cleft lip and palate.
The purpose of the event was to bring the local cleft community together and raise awareness about the importance of a comprehensive approach to cleft care. Once again, it was a huge success with roughly 200 children and 200 parents and caregivers in attendance. The fun-filled day included face painting, a drawing and painting contest, live music, and arts and crafts classes for parents. New patients also had the opportunity to get health evaluations in each cleft care discipline including: surgery, nursing, dentistry, speech therapy and psychology.
Health and Education Day took place at one of our Community Rehabilitation Centres (CRCs) in San Martin de Porres, a community in Peru’s capital city. Currently, Transforming Faces and kusiROSTROS have established five CRCs around the periphery of Lima to ensure families of children with cleft have access to quality and comprehensive cleft care close to home.
According to kusiROSTROS Director Maria Teresa Torres Morales, “the parents were very happy to see a Comprehensive Care Centre become a reality for people with cleft lip and palate.” KusiROSTROS has also recently launched an exciting partnership with the teaching hospital at Cayetano Heredia University (UPCH). The state-of-the-art UPCH facility now hosts one of CRCs and serves as a Dental Referral Centre for more complex cases.
Learn more about our Peru programs.
Transforming Faces was recently announced as a finalist for the Voluntary Sector Reporting Awards (VSRA), Canada’s largest charity awards!
The VSRAs are run annually by the CPA-Queen’s Centre for Governance at Queen’s University, in partnership with CPA Ontario and leading accounting firm, Grant Thornton. The Awards are dedicated to improving industry transparency and governance by recognizing Ontario’s best non-profit Annual Reports.
TF is a proud finalist in the ‘international focused charities’ category alongside Canadian Feed the Children and WaterAid. As an organization committed to strong accountability , transparency and governance, we are thrilled to be recognized as one of this year’s finalists.
Winning charities will be announced February 6, 2015 in Toronto and will receive a $5,000 award. Stay tuned for the results!