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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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