Jonas 9, 10 Jonathan and Welly 15 years of age, are the Natividad brothers. All three were accompanied by Rucksack Coach 1,000km to the capital Manila and there were operated by the specialists of Noordhof Craniofacial Foundation.
What comes after the cleftlip operation?
Many years ago Jonas and Welly were both operated on the cleft lip, but there was never the necessary follow-up and the cleft palate. Many patients I met have never received this follow-up operation. The lip is corrected and closed, the children look pretty again, there are great before and after pictures for the sponsors. A life was saved. Really?
Jonas and Welly still suffering from low selfconfidence. With a cleft palate the speech ability is limited. After so many years the boys have now accustomed to a ‘different’ way of pronaunciation, even after successful surgery they need many years of speech training to ‘unlearn’. NCFP Sprachtherapist Paolo advises the patients to learn a ‘new’ language. A foreign language can often be more easily learned than to relearn their own language.
Who pays for the older patients?
The Natividad brothers were the first cleft patients I was introduced to in the Philippines. When I met them in December 2014 I had no experience with cleft patients and had to research what to do first. Another major challenge was to find an organization that would also operate the elderly and then also on the palate. In all these months, I have learned that it is easier to find sponsors for a cleftlip-operation of a small child. There are dramatic before and after pictures. In three of our patients, I could personally experience the difference, which is really dramatic. Even the parents need to get used to the ‘new’ face of their child. 7 cleft patients in my group were older and also cleft palate patients. Because there won’t be dramatic pictures it is difficult to find sponsors. For NCFP it was natural to operate also the older children and adults. Jonathan receives a cleftlip correction, with Jonas and Welly the cleftpalate was closed. Thank you !!!!
NCFP and Rucksack Coach work hand in hand
In NCFP I have found an excellent partner. This Philippine organization offers a unique ‘Complete Cleft Program’. The Executive Director Ms. Mel Maran collaborates with many different fundraising organizations. For the group I brought from Bohol- 10 patients and 11 accompanying persons, she organized transportation, accommodation and meals, regular check-ups, dental repairs and speech therapy on site in Manila. Together with Ms. Mel, I was responsible for the patient over a period of more than 10 weeks. I even lived with the patient and worked on the psycho-social aspects. Every single patient I got to know and many would like to share their story with us along the portrait series Rucksack Coach made with them.
Support and donations are gratefully accepted
For NCFP it is yet difficult to obtain donations for Operations-secondary costs such as transport, accommodation and meals. Anyone wishing to support NCFP can do so directly and without detours through their website : www.ncfphil.org
All actions I perform as Rucksack Coach I pay mainly out of my own pocket. Here in Manila I often shopped and cooked for the patients. On side, in the middle I can target donations and can even with small amounts do much good. A little girl and her parents donated the contents of her piggy bank, which I used to buy the children here a paddling pool.
There are external and internal scars left with the cleft patients. Scars heal better with a lot of care and attention.
Those who do like what I do and wish to help, you can do so here: Donations to Rucksack Coach
All donations to Rucksack Coach are tax deductible. For donations through this website a donation receipt will be sent automatically to you.
Idea © Rucksack Coach
Photo © Ann-Kathrin Lange
Mum and daughter around the world to do good
Beauty shoot for cleft patients