Urgent Call – Access to Vital Cleft Treatment

Since 2001, Project Harar has worked in the poorest and most remote areas of Ethiopia to provide access to treatment for young patients with cleft lip and palate. Over the past 21 years, we have treated 9,748 children, helping to transform not only their lives, but those of their families as well. The effects of Covid-19, combined with civil unrest across Ethiopia, have created an increasingly difficult environment for providing treatment. For a time, elective surgeries were suspended, but we are able to offer programs again. There are more infants and toddlers than ever waiting for their smile journey to begin. With your support, our next programs hope to treat over 300 children who are currently waiting for surgery. We are therefore appealing to the generosity and kindness of this crowdfunding community and soliciting donations for our urgent appeal, which will provide life-changing treatment for 50 children.

Children who live in remote areas of Ethiopia already experience food insecurities due to environmental, social and economic factors, these difficulties are compounded for those with cleft lip and palate and these children can become dangerously undernourished. Babies are often unable to suckle and may tend to choke, making breastfeeding nearly impossible. Without corrective surgery, not only will these children face malnutrition, but they will often continue to struggle with other developmental barriers, such as speech and hearing difficulties.

Our lunge program is delivered in Ethiopia by an Ethiopian program team who are experts in their field. In rural Ethiopia, children with cleft lip and palate are often hidden away by their families, unable to go to school or have friends. There is a lack of awareness that a cleft condition is treatable. Project Harar works to break social stigma, working with community leaders and local health clinics to provide information and access to treatment for cleft lip and palate.

The remoteness of rural areas in Ethiopia, combined with poverty, makes it impossible for a patient in need of treatment to travel to the city, which is the only place where they can receive the required surgery. Project Harar takes care of the arrangements, provides food, transport and accommodation for the patients and their guardians, the journey can often take more than 2 days. Our program officers will take care of them every step of the way, from identification to follow-up.

Access to cleft treatment will dramatically improve an infant or child’s life prospects, meaning they can eat, talk, smile and go to school. Please consider supporting the Harar Project in our Urgent Appeal. A donation of £150 will dramatically change a child’s outlook on life, allowing them to eat, talk, smile and grow into adulthood without being stigmatized by others. We are grateful for any amount you are able to donate at this time.

Christine E. Phillips