Transforming Faces Blog

New Surgical Equipment in Ethiopia

February 4th, 2016 by

Access to safe, reliable surgical equipment has been a growing challenge for our medical team in Ethiopia. Over the last year, we have received incredible support from our donors to help raise funds towards these costly machines. Thanks to your generosity, we’re thrilled to report that two of the most urgently needed pieces: an electrosurgery machine and patient monitor, were purchased and delivered to Yekatit 12 Hospital in January.

New surgical equipment: patient monitor New surgical equipment: electrosurgery machine

Since 2007, Transforming Faces has been working with Yekatit 12 Hospital to ensure that children born with cleft lip and palate in Ethiopia receive quality, comprehensive care. Yekatit continues to serve as the only cleft care facility in the entire country, and has been providing free cleft treatment for more than 500 patients each year.

Lack of quality surgical equipment has increasingly become an obstacle for our skilled surgical team in Ethiopia. Most of the equipment at Yekatit 12 was old, outdated or had broken down completely which made performing safe, quality surgeries very difficult. This is particularly challenging now as Yekatit 12 has a newly built hospital with fantastic surgery facilities without the equipment to support it.

The new Yekatit 12 hospital

The newly built Yekatit 12 Hospital

Dr. Mekonen Eshete, the lead plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Yekatit 12 explained that poor equipment at the facility puts patients at an unnecessary risk.

To address this growing concern, Transforming Faces initiated a fundraising campaign last year. While many pieces of equipment were identified as urgent, the team at Yekatit 12 placed the electrosurgery machine and the patient monitor as the highest priority.

During a cleft surgery, an electrosurgery machine is used to apply high-frequency electric currents to biological tissues in order make precise cuts and limit patient blood loss. A patient monitor displays patient’s vital signs which informs the surgical team about the patient’s condition.

We are so grateful to the many people who helped make the purchase of these machines possible, especially Blossom Foundation and the Terence and Svea McKillen Foundation for their generous support.

In addition to facilitating safe surgeries, you are helping ensure the sustainability of our cleft care program at Yekatit 12. This equipment will be used to train and support new surgeons from throughout the country, which will help make treatment for children with cleft lip and palate accessible country-wide for years to come. Thank you!

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TF and Menchie’s Partner to Spread Awareness and Smiles

February 2nd, 2016 by

For the month of January, Transforming Faces partnered with our next door neighbour, Menchie’s College West to help change lives, one smile at a time.

Menchies College Street Supports TF


This community campaign focused on increasing public awareness and raising funds to support children with cleft lip and palate in TF’s partner countries.

We are so grateful to TF Champions, Carolyn and Ali, the owners of Menchie’s on College West. Carolyn and Ali generously donated 15% of campaign proceeds to TF and covered the cost of printing promotional materials.

Menchies College Street Owners, Carolyn & Ali

Thank you Menchie’s College Street team. We really appreciate your support!

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Stanley’s Cleft Care Journey

January 27th, 2016 by

Nallavanpalaym is a small village in the Thiruvannamalai district of South India. The village has a population of over 7,000 people, and most of the people in the region speak Tamil.

Sheela and Shivakumar are residents of this village, and the parents of two young boys, Stanley and Surya. Stanley, the eldest son, is now 6 years old. He is a first grade student at National Nursery & Primary School, loves math and aspires to become a police officer.

Stanley and his younger brother Surya

Stanley’s parents recall the day when he was born. Sheela, his mother, explains to our local partners in India how she learned about her son’s cleft lip and palate, half an hour after his birth.

Stanley’s parents knew of another child born with cleft lip and palate who was receiving treatment at a private hospital. Unfortunately, they could not afford to send their son to the same facility.Stanley, now 6 years old, was born with a cleft lip and palate

The next day, Sheela received an unexpected visitor at her house. It was a Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) worker, who informed her about the free cleft treatment available through Transforming Faces’ partner, Sri Ramachandra University (SRU), in Chennai.

Subsequently, Stanley’s parents embarked on a 250 kilometre journey with their son to access free surgery in Chennai. The CBR worker and SRU medical team assured the concerned parents that their son would be well taken care of.

Stanley received two cleft repair surgeries shortly after his arrival at SRU and later began speech therapy. His parents were thrilled at how quickly he was able to access care.

Stanley will continue to receive ongoing speech support and orthodontic care close to home through SRU’s mobile speech and dental camps.

SRU provides mobile dental services in rural Indian communities

In India, Transforming Faces has partnered with speech and dental specialists at Sri Ramachandra University to provide care to rural families in the Thiruvannamalai region. Our program focuses on improving access to cleft lip and palate care in remote, rural areas of India through speech and dental camps, and our E-MPOWER mobile application.

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Living with an Unrepaired Cleft: Tarkwa’s Story

January 21st, 2016 by

A child born with a cleft lip and palate requires cleft care right from birth. However, in many remote developing regions of the world, children lack access to care and can go years without treatment.

Tarkwa Wale Nabuno was one of the many children who grew up with an unrepaired cleft. She lived in the small village of Busha in Wolita zone in southern Ethiopia, and was the youngest of her five siblings.

When asked about her school life, Tarkwa shared mixed emotions. She spoke of how she enjoyed her science classes, but at the same time, also mentioned the discomfort she would feel in school because of her cleft lip and palate.

Tarkwa was 17 years old when one of the teachers decided to help raise money to have her lip repaired. Alongside Tarkwa’s classmates, he managed to raise just enough money for Tarkwa to have a lip repair surgery at the nearby Wolita Hospital. But, upon her return from surgery, many of Tarkwa’s classmates repeatedly asked to see her lip scar, which made her very uncomfortable. She unfortunately was so embarrassed that she dropped out of school.

Thankfully, the medical staff at Wolita Hospital had referred Tarkwa to our partner hospital, Yekatit 12, the country’s only comprehensive cleft lip and palate centre. After a 350 km long journey to Addis Ababa, Tarkwa’s was finally able to access multidisciplinary care.

Tarkwa after surgery

Here, Tarkwa had her palate repaired and gained access to follow-up care roughly five times a year. According to our medical team, Tarkwa was worried about her speech and oral health, but hopes that ongoing treatment will make a big difference. Last year, Tarkwa turned 24. She now lives and works with her parents in Busha.

In Ethiopia, Transforming Faces has partnered with Yekatit 12 since 2007. The program at Yekatit provides free cleft care services to at least 500 patients each year. A few patients live close to Addis Ababa, but many, like Tarkwa, travel long distances to access cleft care.

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GAVINA Recognized by Argentinian Provincial Government

January 13th, 2016 by

We are thrilled to announce that our partners in Argentina, Fundación GAVINA, have been acknowledged by the local provincial government for their dedicated work in the non-profit sector. GAVINA was one of roughly 20 highly reputable Argentinian foundations that were awarded a certificate of recognition in a public ceremony that took place in December 2015.

GAVINA was also awarded 100,000 pesos, equivalent to roughly $10,000 Canadian. The organizations selected were cited as some of the most important and renowned groups in the province.

Public award ceremony in Argentina

GAVINA representatives with certificate of recognition

At Transforming Faces, we are so proud to partner with such skilled, dedicated cleft care teams around the world and see all their hard work recognized.

Learn more about our global partnerships.

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