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.
Welly Natividad, nickname Jhimboy is 15 years old and lives with his parents and his 9 siblings on Pangangan Island in the Philippines.
The family income is very low, so that Welly supporst his father when fishing to feed the family.
Welly was operated as a little boy on his cleft lip, but it was only in April 2015 that he received his follow-up operation for his cleftpalate. He was brought to the 1,000km distant capital Manila by Rucksack Coach and operated from NCFP.
Idea © Rucksack Coach – Photo © Ann–Kathrin Lange.
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
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.
Peter Ytac, 15 years old underwent surgery on his cleft palate in March 2015. Rucksack Coach accompanied him from Bohol to Manila, where he was operated on by NCFP and received their complet cleft treatment.
Peter received surgery, tooth treatment and speech therapy as well as regular check ups.
Despite successful surgery Peter will still need regular speech training.
Peter goes to high school and works as an altar boy in Pangangan Island. His mum Susan Ytac and he received a great photo shoot. Continue reading
Susan Ytac received a special beauty shoot. She is the mum of cleft patient Peter Ytac.
Holistic care. Body, mind and soul. That’s always important to me, also reagrding our cleft friends.
Bullying, staring and being laughed at, the feeling of being different or incomplete have left scars on the souls of those affected as well as with their parents and family members. Surgery is the first of many steps. Continue reading
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.
Portrait No 7
Cleft Child Nina Grace Maquiling underwent cleft lip surgery after 8 weeks of preparation in Manila.
End of February 2015, she traveled with her mom Estrella and a cleft group led by “Rucksack Coach” to Manila. The Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation Philippines prepared her 8 weeks for her cleft operation. Nina Grace means “Little girl of Blessing”.
That is how she is treated by her loving family. A little girl that is blessed with a special task. She came into this world with a cleft lip and cleft palate.
In eight weeks living together in Manila, I got to know Mama Estrella and Baby Nina quiet well. After Nina’s first surgery, I visited all the family again in their home in Calape.
I invited the whole family to a beauty shoot. Along with their portrait they want to share their story with us:
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.