Cleft lip and palate repairs by Rotary Clubs.

Rotary Clubs in Australia raise money for repairs of cleft lips and palates—as well as speech therapy service—for poor children in Asia and Southeast Asia at no cost to their families. The Australian Rotarian Operation Cleft program is not unlike those sponsored by Smile Train and Operation Smile  here in the US. What’s different is that a team of volunteers from the Rotarian  community are able to keep administration costs to a minimum. The cost for each operation is very low and covers surgeons, hospital stays, and pre and post op medication. 

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Cleft lip and palate program started small.

In 2005, a Rotary Club in Box Hill (Victoria)  funded a pilot program of 60 cleft repair operations  in Dinajpur, Bangladesh,* near the borders of Nepal and Bhutan. Impressed by the simplicity and success of the initial trial, the club then decided to launch Operation Cleft as an international Rotary project. 

The project touched the hearts of many Rotarians around Australia, with over 350 clubs from 22 Rotary Districts and 5 international Districts eventually offering their support. What started out as 60 cleft repairs for poor kids in Bangladesh mushroomed into 8,000 surgical procedures completed in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, and Laos. 

Impact.

Operation Cleft has made a great impact on the lives of many children and their families  Still, millions of children throughout Asia and SE Asia have untreated clefts that can lead to deafness, dental problems, malnutrition, and even death in some cases. Besides having difficulty eating and speaking clearly, many clefts suffer from bullying and social isolation due to their facial deformities.

Apart from the obvious improvement in appearance and enhanced social acceptance, the net result of this work is that these children will return to their villages and towns after the operations with greatly improved self-esteem and confidence and vastly improved life prospects for themselves and their families.

For further information, contact Operation Cleft at info@operationcleft.org.au

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*

Relatively small country between India and Myanmar/Burma.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh is typical of the countries served by Operation Cleftone of the poorest countries in the world, in part because it is one of the most disaster prone areas of the world.
As a low lying river delta on the Bay of Bengal it’s susceptible to regular cyclones and monsoon flooding, and vulnerable to earthquakes,
tsunamis, storm surges,  and tornadoes. Climate change is causing unpredictable
variations in weather patterns which is already
disrupting food production, and is predicted to
cause sea level rise which could threaten the
existence of 18% of the land area by 2050
(based on a predicted 1 metre rise).
 
Bangladesh is one of the most densely
populated countries in the world.
Its population of 150 million is squeezed into a
land area the size of England and Wale
**
Rotary is a worldwide organization of business, professional and community leaders.  Clubs are non-political, non-religious, and open to all.

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