Kumaaol was 11 years old when he received his last cleft lip and palate surgery through services accessed with Project Harar.

This is his story of life after surgery and speech and language therapy treatment...

Finding out about Project Harar and accessing comprehensive cleft care services:

His father, Keeysan, and his family found out about Project Harar through word of mouth, from someone in their local community. Currently in grade one of school, Kumaaol and his family come from a village located in the town of Harar, in the Oromia region. To access this treatment, they travelled 15 kilometres from home. Now Kumaaol's treatment is issued twice per week, and eight times per month. Post-surgery, the type of treatment and support he now receives is community-based speech therapy.

In partnership with the Transforming Faces charity, speech therapy is an aftercare service provided by Project Harar's multidisciplinary health workers, who are trained by our speech and language pathologist. It features frequent pronunciation training, as well as sentence forming and other various exercises.

During this process, caregivers were also orientated in speech therapy activities that can be done at home meaning that children can be more consistently engaged in speech therapy. Over 24 children so far have been able to access the service and are making improvements in their speech and language.

Surgery and speech therapy is absolutely vital for tackling the stigma against facial differences. To first give access to children and families in rural communities, who otherwise would not have been able to afford or even travel for these treatments, is a priority. Only very recently has the cleft condition been classed as a medical issue in Ethiopia, and there is a long way to go to reach the desired state of facial equality, but with your continued support it is possible to actualise such a future.  

Kumaaol during a speech therapy session in 2021.


Life after treatment:

Kumaaol's family were shocked when they saw their child was born with a cleft lip and palate, as they did not know anything about the cleft condition beforehand. It was at Yektatit-12 Hospital that they learnt about all of Project Harar's services for the first time. And now, Keeysan says the speech therapy sessions are benefitting Kumaaol, ‘I am very satisfied by the speech therapist, he comes up to my home twice and also my child progress is very good’.

Keeysan has expressed his hopes for his son's bright future, ‘I hope my child has better communication with his friends and also becomes a good academic student.’ His favourite subject at school is Afaan Oromo and when he grows up, Kumaaol wants to be a doctor. He has had both positive and negative experiences at school: positively, he now has good communications with his classmates yet negatively, he still gets frustrated as the school year goes on. Luckily for him, his best friend is his big brother and attends school with him.



You can read about our speech therapy programmes in the following links:

Speech Therapy - 2021

Learn more about Speech and Language Therapy



Help Project Harar continue to provide vital services to families so they can access cleft lip and palate treatment.

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. This means children like Kumaaol can lessen the barriers to accessing education and active participation in community activities.