Starting from the scratch with doormats. Never give up. And how you can support.

For 5 month now, my 3 year old daughter and me, accompany cleft patients on their long way to recovery. I was looking for them, driving to their homes to the different barangays and had gunmen following us. I brought them to different check-ups and went with them on a over 30hour journey to Manila. We rode together tricycle, multicap and jeepnis, taxi, pedicap, ferry and plane. I had support on the way and was suddenly left alone. But I had promised not to stop until all 10 patients received their first operation and they know how to get the follow up operations. (All operationa and compleat clft treatment done by NCFP). Now 5 month later all 10 patients have received their operation. One major step is done. Thank you to everyone to helped along the way. Also to the ones who had not the endurance to finish. I did learn from all of them.

Along the way I got to know patients and families very well.  We shared joy and tears, laughter and sorrows. The cleft patients and families became our friends and finally our family.

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Portrait No 17: Mama of 3 cleft children shares her story

My name is Jocelyn Roluna N., my husband is Wilfredo Selem N.. We have 10 children: Krystel 21, Joeffrey 19, Wendelyn 18, Jovanie 18, Jovelyn 17, Welly 15, Gerald 13, Jerome 12, Jonathan 11 and Jonas 10. Our oldest daughter graduated highschool. She is going to apply for work. She has no work experience so far, but I want her to work so she can help her brothers and sisters.

We don’t have enough money for everydays life. We live on a small island and sell the fish my husband and our sons catch. But mostly it is not enough for all of us. I have a sideline, I am a manicurist, sometimes I have service, but sometime I cannot serve because my hand cannot work for a long time. Sometimes my body and my muscles are in pain. Sometimes my in-laws have pitty on us and help but it happens only sometimes.

Most of the time we don’t have enough money. We try to save money so our kids can go to school, but it is just not enough.

This is my short story, thank you for listening and reading my story. Good day. Thank you very much. Jocelyn N.



Idea © Rucksack Coach  –   Photo © AnnKathrin Lange.


Cleft patients from 5 month to 36 years – Philippines








Portrait No 16: Jocelyn Natividad

 Jocelyn Natividad has delivered 10 children into this world. Two sons were born with a cleft lip and palate, one son with a cleft lip. As a mom of 10 children Jocelyn is very busy. Laundry is washed by hand and takes a long time to complete.

I wanted to give a great beauty shoot experience also to the mum. The photographer AnnKathrin Lange and assistant Melly Kieß made the shooting a very memorable one. Annka brought clothes that the women could keep.
Idea © Rucksack Coach  –   Photo © AnnKathrin Lange.

Portrait No 14: Jonathan Natividad

Jonathan Natividad is 10 years old and lives with his parents and his 9 siblings on Pangangan Island in the Philippines. In February 2015 Rucksack Coach has brought him to Manila, where he received a cleftlip correction. With him his two brothers Jonas and Welly got operated. All operations were performed by NCFP

Idea © Rucksack Coach
Foto © Ann-Kathrin Lange


Count your Blessings on the 34th Birthday



Portrait No 12: What happens after cleft surgery? Did we change a live?

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 :

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

Portrait No 11: Mama Susan and cleft patient Peter


Mama Susan and cleft patient Peter


Idea © Rucksack Coach
Photo © Ann-Kathrin Lange

Portrait No 8: I want to study – Estela Marie

A letter written from the sister of cleft baby Nina Grace:
My ambition in life is to become a business woman someday. But I can´t get my ambition when I stop studying. There´s a big possibility that I have to stop studying. Because my father and mother cannot afford my tuition fee, school supplies and school uniform. Because we are poor and my fathers salary is not enough to buy food and ect. My mother is taking care of our little sister which has a cleftlip and palate and my mother is also having a bad condition ahe has bleeding because she has a polyp.


I pray to papa Jesus that there are people that have a big heart that they can buy what I need in school that they help me in this way.


Thank you. Estela Marie Garces Maquiling, 13 years old.