Our next Complex Surgical Mission will be taking place between February and March 2019. 

Every year, we aim to treat around 50 complex cases of facial disfigurement in Ethiopia. These conditions include noma – a flesh eating facial gangrene, giant facial tumours, wounds from animal attacks and lockjaw. 

Facial disfigurements disproportionately affect the poorest people in Ethiopia. This is partially due to the lack of availability of treatment in rural areas, the cost of accessing treatment and a lack of knowledge about treatment. Additionally, those with disfigurements find it difficult to perform the functions most of us take for granted, such as eating, breathing or talking – they also face great stigma and discrimination, and isolation. With the help from our UK and Ethiopian volunteers, we provide treatment for patients who cannot access the healthcare they desperately need.

Throughout the year, our outreach team proactively engages with rural communities and government health workers to find individuals with severe facial disfigurements. Patients come from far and wide areas across Ethiopia which are often difficult to reach.

The Complex Surgical Mission is split into three phases:

The Pre-op Stage

cleft, facial disfigurement, ethiopia, charity, fundraising, eastafria, africa, volunteers, cleft palate, Project HararAn international team of volunteer medical professionals fly out to Addis Ababa in late February. For two weeks, initial assessments are conducted on approximately 60 potential patients to assess their suitability for surgery – these include blood tests, x-rays, a full medical history and oral hygiene investigations.

Many patients are too underweight and weak to undergo surgery. For our 2019 mission, we would like as many patients as possible to receive surgery and not be restricted by their nutritional status. This is why we have recruited two UK registered dieticians to improve the nutritional status of our patients. Our two dieticians will carefully monitor our patients’ diets and provide them with high calorie, high protein vitamin shakes and a nutritious meal three times a day – last year, one patient gained 7kg in just 10 days! Additionally, with the help of our volunteer hygienist, vital educational sessions will be provided to our patients and their families on good hygiene practices to limit preventable diseases.

The Operative Stagecleft, facial disfigurement, ethiopia, charity, fundraising, eastafria, africa, volunteers, cleft palate, Project Harar

Following the pre-op stage, an intense two-week operative stage begins. Patients suitable for surgery will be operated on by a team of surgeons, doctors, nurses and anaesthetists from the UK, France, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Ethiopia.


After surgery, our patients recuperate at the Cheshire Rehabilitation Centre, just north of Addis, where they will receive support from nurses, doctors and our two dieticians before they are discharged. Our aim is to ensure they stay infection free and are fully recovered before they return home. We will also work with an Ethiopian social worker who will provide advice to our patients to help them boost their confidence and self-esteem so they can re-integrate back into society successfully. However, Cheshire is also an opportunity for our patients to relax and play together!

Without our intervention, most of our patients won't have access to this treatment or cannot afford it. One operation from our medical team has the potential to significantly alter their life prospects forever. We have found that 75% of patients became socially engaged and accepted back into their communities after surgery. Children return to school to lead happier, healthier lives.

Your support will help us provide life-changing surgery for the most marginalised people with facial disfigurements in Ethiopia. Together we can transform lives. Support our campaign