Cleft lip and palate can come in many different forms and severities. There can be a simple bilateral or unilateral cleft of the lip only which in most cases is relatively easy to repair. In many cases the palate is also affected which leaves a big gaping hole in the roof of the mouth, causing problems with speech and eating. The teeth, gums and jaw can also be affected which is much more complicated in some cases, requiring additional surgery. If it is only the lip that is affected, surgery can take place when the child is still a baby and in many cases only one operation is needed. If the palate is affected, two or three operations might be needed depending on severity. In the case of gum, jaw and teeth repair, this can take years of work and can be very costly. Cleft deformities are much more prevalent in boys than girls.
Malnutrition and Turberculosis
Many of the cleft children that we find have other problems which we need to deal with before they are able to have their operations. Two of the biggest problems are malnutrition & Tuberculosis (TB). Many of the children are babies who are physically unable to feed from the mother. Powdered milk is very expensive in Indonesia so many of the parents feed their children on a water and sugar mix which is far less nutritious. If the child is suffering from malnutrition they cannot be operated on until they are back to a healthy body weight. We make constant trips to the villages to supply families with milk and to facilitate regular check-ups with doctors. This can be very time consuming. Sadly in some cases the child cannot be saved. TB is rife in Indonesia and many children we find are suffering with it. TB takes six months to cure and children that have contracted it cannot be operated on until the disease is under control. Curing children with TB adds greatly to our costs.
Aftercare & Harapan Jaya Rehabilation Centre
The Children of Sumatra have been working with Harapan Jaya Rehabilitation Centre for years. Their website is harapan-jaya.org. Our work would not be possible without the support of this great centre. Every year they arrange for medical teams from Holland to come and carry out surgery for free and teach local surgeons their skills. The centre has many facilities such as schools, sewing cooperative, woodwork factory and their own business making prosthetic limbs. Their after care centre has excellent nursing staff. Each child gets the highest level of care we can provide. Lucky for us and the children they have a trained speech therapist so many of the children get the chance to regain their speech.
Harapan Hospital and the Western Surgeons
Every year between September and October we have 2 teams of western surgeons coming over to Indonesia. This is arranged by Harapan Jaya rehabilitation centre. These wonderful teams of surgeons carry out some of the most difficult operations while teaching local surgeons their skills. The western surgeons have been working very closely with our team of Indonesian surgeons for years. Our local surgeons are highly skilled and the team work that is carried out together is amazing. We would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone for their dedication to these projects over the years.
Dentistry is a very important part in the process of repairing the problems associated with cleft deformities. Dentistry can be very expensive in Indonesia, often more than the cost of the initial surgery. Our charity is very small and we run on very little funding but we have been trying to raise more money so more children can undergo the benefits of dentistry. In the last couple of years we have tried to help as many children as possible with dental problems. We are working alongside a great local dentist who has great compassion for what we do to help the children. He gives us very reasonable prices which means we can help more children.