Two year old Endale had his first cleft lip surgery this April in the city of Bahir Dar, the Amhara region. 

Endale's father Andenet told us that they started their journey at 2:00am in the night and reached the hospital at Bahir Dar at 12:00pm the next day. Their journey started from their Kebele (village) and to reach the nearest mode of transport they traveled an hour and half by foot. 

Endale was just born with a cleft lip, the family have one other child was was not born with a cleft condition. When he was born Endale's Mum and Dad registered him at their nearest health clinic, who told them that they would be able to access cleft surgery via Project Harar. When he was six months old they were referred to Bahir Dar hospital, but as he was too young and underweight they were told to come the next year.

When he was first born we were scared not only us but also our family too. They asked us what happened, did he fall? We didn’t know what to say because we have never seen a child born this way before. Then we took him to the health post in our Kebele they told us that he was going to be alright and that it can be treated. That is when I felt little relief. 

People stare at him when they first see him they ask us what is wrong with him. Children also call him names, I am glad he has older brother to play with. We are very happy he is getting the surgery and in the future we hope he becomes a good student and someday a health worker


Endale and his Mother and father after receiving his cleft surgery. He has a bandage around the area to keep it clean.

Children living in rural and remote areas of Ethiopia face a multitude of barriers to accessing treatment for cleft conditions. In Endale's case as well as the distance and cost for his family of reaching treatment, he faced the additional barrier of being underweight due to his cleft lip. This is likely to be because of feeding issues that can happen when children have cleft conditions, as suction is harder to achieve for breast feeding and food and can escape out the child's mouth. Children in remote areas that have been affected by conflict, flooding or drought are at greater risk of becoming malnourished. It is so important that children are able to access cleft surgery as soon as they become eligible. 

As well as addressing the barriers associated with the distance and cost of families in rural areas reaching treatment, we work year round to break down stigma around cleft conditions and spread positive and accurate information in rural communities, we do this via awareness raising initiatives and by conducting training for multidisciplinary health workers at a local and regional level. Training also helps to create better awareness about the correct stage (age and weight) to refer an infant for cleft surgery.

Help Project Harar continue to provide vital services to families so they can access cleft lip and palate treatment. It costs £150 to provide access to treatment for one child.

That's £150 to change someone's whole world 🌎
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