Portrait No 24: Charles before the cleftlip operation, after weeks of intensive care. Little boy with many traumas.

Charles, Charly, Charlsy. Who would have thought that this boy would grow so fond to me.

Charly’s development in the past 5 months makes me so incredibly proud and confirms my belief that what we are doing for months, my 3 year old daughter and I, made a difference. We touch the hearts of people and they touch our hearts. We all have changed by this experience. We reached our limits and helped each other to keep going. Continue reading

Portrait No 18: Allan

Allan is 24 years old. In march 2015 he got operated on his cleft palate on the same day as his two brothers Gerald and Benji. The operation was performed by the specialist of NCFP.

Allan was the oldest patient who was brought by Rucksack Coach from Bohol to Manila.


Idea © Rucksack Coach – Foto © Ann-Kathrin 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 : 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

Count your Blessings on the 34th Birthday

I have made it my habit to count my blessings. To express gratitude even in hard times. There are blessings to find even in the most awkward situations. Sometimes I can not see them, so I just try to trust.

2014 was a very turbulent year, since July 31, 2014, we are on the road with no fixed home, since mid-December we’re in the Philippines. In five months in the Philippines I was able to achieve much as ‘Rucksack Coach’. Together with my three year old daughter Malia Luna I have experienced an incredible amount, learned and helped. We were warmly welcomed in a new culture in a new country. We made many friends and also got to know the downsides. We were lied to and cheated and I was tested by my principles. Whether I am honest, true and authentic with myself even in difficult times? We experienced the fun side of the country and also the poverty and pain.

My 34th birthday I spent in the Philippines in a country far away from my home country. Together with my daughter who is always by my side. Our home is where our heart feels well. Where we can see the sun and the moon.

I want to share with you, my three main birthday presents:  Continue reading

Portrait No 6 – Cleftlip and palate child Kc Mozo: 9 month after her operation

Portraits-11Portrait no. 6: Beautiful Kc Mozo
was operated on her cleft lip in August 2014. She’s the reason I came primarily to the Philippines.For weeks, I turned in a circle in search of information about her follow-up. The parents did not know if and when a second operation shall take place. No education and information were given.

I contacted the “Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe” in Freiburg, they linked to the”German doctors” in the Philippines. There I had to wait two weeks until the doctor came back from the Christmas vacation came back and then I was told, Kc was not operated by them, but has been forwarded to a mission of Australian doctors. This is where I got stuck.

I always follow a holistic approach. Educating the patient and parents is so very important.

I see the risks that comes with a “mission” Operation without sustainability.

The money for Kc Mozos follow-Operation was there, only no one knew what had to be done.

Result of my investigation and my work:

Kc Mozo does not need speech therapy because her soft palate is intact. In 2-3 years when she will get her second teeth she will receive another operation. There will be bone taken from her thigh and inserted into her jaw. The growth of the permanent teeth stimulates the growth of bone in the jaw. Therefore healthy teeth are so important. Kc will receive a free operation from Noordhof Craniofacial Foundation Philippines.

11 patients I linked so far to NCFP. 9 have already been operated. One will be operated this week. And Kc will receive her operation in a few years.

“Once a patient, always a patient.” According to this motto of Mildred Maran from NCFP, all patients will receive the important follow-up.

She needed blood transfusion after birth complication

 MozoCharmelyn Mozo delievered her youngest son April 30, 2015

This picture was taken on April 29, during my last visit in their home. She smiled and made friendly small talk. Only the neighbor told me that Charmely was already in labor, her water had been broken. She could not afford to go to the hospital.  She was lacking 60 Euro.

I advanced the money and called out on Facebook for support.

Charmelyns condition worsened. She asked me to visit before I leave Bohol. I arrived at the hospital on the morning of April 30 at 8:30. She had severe pain and was after more than 20 hours in labor at the end of her strength. They planned to bring her to the bigger hospital in Tagbilaran, which is one hour ride. But the ambulance is not leaving until the gasoline is paid by the patient.

After another painful hours Charmelyn delievered a healthy baby boy. She lost a lot of blood and her health was very unstable. Her sister-in-law who never left her side was in close contact with me via text message. In the evening Charmelyns condition got so bad that she needed two bags of blood transfusion. I asked the hospital not to wait and promised to get the money.

Through my reports on Facebook, I found a donar. A warm-hearted lady from Altensteig immediatly sent 150Euro with Wester Union. Since I was now in Manila, I organized that a friend in Pangangan would pick up the money and send it to the family. Together with the 70 Euro I have already advanced and is donated from the “Kc Mozo-Friends” in Nagold, Charmelyn is able to pay the hospital bills.

Currently Charmelyn is still weak but through the blood transfusion she is on the road to recovery.

Many thanks to all who support them with prayers and good thoughts and help. Special thanks to the donors from Altensteig and Nagold who have not hesitated.