Transforming Faces Blog

Lives Transformed: Meet Sifen

April 30th, 2015 by


DSC05739 (2)Sifen Alemayehu was born with cleft lip in Ethiopia. She was referred to our partner hospital, Yekatit 12 (the country’s only comprehensive cleft care centre) and at three months of age, arrived at our centre with her mother and uncle.  At nine months old, Sifen was able to have her first lip repair surgery and her family was overjoyed.

Sifen’s parents are from East Shewa, a very rural part of Ethiopia where they work as farmers.  Due to their low socioeconomic status, they did not believe their child would be able to have her cleft repaired. Our team at Yekatit 12 note that when Sifen’s mother saw her baby after the surgery she was unable to fully express the happiness she felt.

DSC06013 (2)

Sifen will continue to receive comprehensive care at Yekatit 12. She is one of many Ethiopian patients who will benefit enormously from a new government-funded hospital building currently under construction.

Yekatit 12 currently has a 260-bed capacity for a catchment area of 1.5 million people. Thanks to this new infrastructure, which has been under construction for the last two years, Yekatit 12 will be able to dramatically increase its capacity in all areas of clinical treatment. As part of the expansion, two operation rooms are being exclusively designated for cleft lip and palate treatment to support patients like Sifen.



New Hospital

Stay tuned for more updates on this project! 


Bookmark and Share

A Bright Future for Iniya

April 23rd, 2015 by

iniya at camp site (2)

Iniya in 2007

20-year-old Iniya was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and has been receiving comprehensive cleft care from our India partner, Sri Ramachandra University (SRU) for nearly eight years. In 2007, her family heard about the project through an awareness camp held at a government hospital in Thiruvannamalai. Thanks to SRU’s available services, Iniya received two cleft repair surgeries: a fistula closure and an alveolar bone graft. She and her family have also been able to access speech therapy and dental care services through SRU’s mobile camps that run only 25 kilometres from their home.

Iniya has been very happy with the results of her ongoing care. She says that “without this treatment, I would have not come out of my home, not attended school, not made friends and not spoken clearly. But now I have gained the confidence to move out and socialize with others as they can understand my speech.”Iniya- a student of nursing (2)

Iniya is now a third year nursing student at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing in the Thiruvannamalai district. She hopes to complete a postgraduate Masters degree in Nursing so that one day, she can bring the same quality care and psychosocial support she received from SRU to other families of children born with cleft lip and palate.

Iniya’s story is one of true transformation. According to her mother, A. Soundarajan, “this project has brought light in my daughter’s life.” Iniya will continue to receive care from our team in India and is scheduled to receive an orthodontic procedure next month.

Learn more about our projects in India

Iniya with her friends at marina beach (2)

Iniya (front, third from right) at the beach with a group of friends

Bookmark and Share

Job Opportunity: Fundraising Assistant

April 20th, 2015 by

Temporary, full-time contract: June 1 – August 28, 2015 (flexible)

Transforming Faces is a Canadian charity that empowers local multidisciplinary medical teams to provide free comprehensive cleft lip and palate care for children and adults in developing countries. This allows children to live full, healthy lives.

Under the supervision of the Executive Director and reporting directly to the Communications Coordinator, the full-time Fundraising Assistant will play an important part in strategic fundraising, donor stewardship, research, and proposal development.

Fundraising & Donor Stewardship (50%)

  • Assess existing fundraising activities, and provide recommendations to retain existing donor base and re-engage lapsed donors
  • Develop and implement strategies to support conversion of monthly donors
  • Develop strategies to reach and engage new supporters, and boost quantity of third party fundraising events
  • Support TF staff with donor stewardship and outreach activities including donor thank you calls, thank you letters, surveys and interviews
  • Provide support with donor database management including data entry and generating reports

Proposal Development (50%)

  • Lead foundation prospect research and develop an annual calendar of application and reporting deadlines
  • Assist with creation of application templates for use throughout the year  
  • Support Communications Coordinator with grant proposal submissions and foundation reporting

Required Skills

  • Post-secondary education in fundraising management or related field, or a combination of skills and experience
  • Prior work experience in fundraising, donor relationship management and/or marketing
  • Previous proposal writing experience an asset
  • Positive, enthusiastic and flexible attitude
  • Knowledge of fundraising best practices, particularly for small to medium non-profits
  • Superior oral, written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Attention to detail and ability to manage multiple responsibilities with tight timelines
  • Excellent research, data management and data analysis skills
  • Proven ability to work with a diverse group of stakeholders in a cross-cultural team environment
  • Previous experience with SUMAC or another donor database is an asset


  • Hands-on experience supporting fundraising initiatives for a well-established international non-profit organization
  • Competitive compensation, commensurate with experience
  • Letter of Recommendation upon successful completion of contract

To Apply:

Please submit your resume and cover letter by email to Courtney Mollenhauer at by May 10, 2015. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until position is filled. Include ‘Fundraising Assistant’ in the subject line. No phone calls please.


Bookmark and Share

Meet TF Board Member: Dr. Ron Zuker

April 16th, 2015 by

Transforming Faces is supported by a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors who provide guidance, strategic leadership and strong governance. In 2014, we were thrilled to introduce two new members who bring invaluable skills and experience to our board.

Dr. Zuker

One of these new members is Dr. Ronald Zuker, plastic surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and professor at the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. Dr. Zuker is the past Chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Section of Plastic Surgery, past president of the American Association of Pediatric Plastic Surgeons, and past president of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery. His clinical focus is on Moebius syndrome, facial paralysis reconstruction, tissue expansion in children, and cleft lip and palate.

Read some of Dr. Zuker’s thoughts on being a part of TF’s Board of Directors:  

“I consider it a great honour to be on the Board of Directors of Transforming Faces. The organizational structure is one that I can relate to with administrative costs being looked after separately and all donations going to the care of children in need.  I truly believe that in time we can improve the lot of children with clefts around the world through the assistance of organizations such as Transforming Faces.

As a surgeon, I know what we can do from a surgical perspective.  However, I also know what we cannot do from a social and integrative perspective.  Social supports for people with clefts are equally important to the actual surgical procedure.  Transforming Faces recognizes this and focuses on pulling all parts of the puzzle together so that unified successful cleft care delivery can be affected.

There are so many areas in our complex world where non-governmental charitable assistance is necessary.  The agenda of Transforming Faces can actually have a direct practical impact on children and faces with clefts.  The moneys donated go directly to cleft care with no administrative burden.  We are realizing our potential in improving the lives of children in many parts of the developing world and hope that we can not only continue to do this but expand our horizons even further.

I bring to the Board considerable expertise in cleft care over my 35 year career at SickKids, in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  I have also worked with charitable organizations in a variety of ways and in a variety of countries, including Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Kenya, South Africa, the Philippines, India and China.  I understand the problems of health care delivery in the developing world and also understand the importance of comprehensive organizational focus such as that provided by Transforming Faces.”


Bookmark and Share

Volunteer Spotlight: Veronika

April 14th, 2015 by

It’s National Volunteer Week and we’re celebrating some of the amazing people who volunteer their time to help make our work possible. One of these exceptional individuals is Veronika Medeiros. Veronika has been lending her support with our annual Beautiful Before & After and Salsa for Smiles fundraising events over the last three years. 

Here are her thoughts on volunteering with Transforming Faces: 

TF-BMO 15.05.2014-164

“Being a part of the TF family has been an incredible experience! It’s so inspiring to work with individuals who are passionate about what they do and always put their best foot forward in order to make a difference in the world and mainly of children with cleft palates. It is going onto three years now that I have been helping out with this organization and Transforming Faces has influenced my life in ways that I cannot express in words! It has grounded me and has made me realize the impact that every single bit that’s given really makes a difference. It is extremely important to know that 100% of the proceeds raised all go straight into providing cleft palate care! This is the only organization I know that is crystal clear and always ensures everyone’s needs are met! Please join us at the Beautiful Before & After event on May 21st and Happy National Volunteer Week!”



Veronika with fellow TF volunteer, Chantelle, at Salsa for Smiles 2014



Bookmark and Share