TORONTO, Feb. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - Transforming Faces (TF), a Canadian charity that provides free multi-disciplinary cleft lip and palate care through local partners in developing countries, recently co-ordinated a medical training trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Canadian volunteers from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and University of Toronto.
Support from TF's donors does not only fund surgeries and rehabilitation for children with cleft lip and palate in developing countries, but also provides training opportunities for local medical teams.
The volunteer team included: Farah Sheikh, Clinical Social Worker with SickKids and Adjunct Practice Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto and TF Medical Advisory Committee Volunteer; Dr. Christopher Forrest, Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery and the Medical Director of SickKids Centre for Craniofacial Care and Research; and Bryan Tompson, Orthodontist and Division Head of Orthodontics at SickKids.
On January 12, the volunteers travelled with Laura Lewis-Watts, TF's Program Manager, to meet with the local team, give lectures to medical residents, and provide recommendations to optimize team care, treatment plans and clinical care for all patients.
"We are happy that our volunteers were able to guide and train the local team in Addis. It means a lot to us that they share our passion for comprehensive cleft care," said Lewis-Watts.
TF has worked in partnership with Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa since 2007. Yekatit, the only hospital in Ethiopia that provides multidisciplinary treatment for cleft lip and palate, provides reconstructive surgery, ENT, speech therapy, psychosocial support, dental care and orthodontics to children from all over the country.
Although word is spreading about the cleft program at Yekatit, many patients come to the unit for the first time during late childhood and adolescence. The volunteers met a wide range of patients on their visit - from teenaged patients who have had primary surgery but now need additional procedures to patients who have never had their clefts repaired, including a 46 year-old man. The volunteer team observed his cleft repair.
"When he looked at his face for the first time after the repair, he said smiling, 'My life begins today,'" said Dr. Forrest.
In Ethiopia, about one in every 600 babies is born with cleft lip and palate and there is an urgency to provide treatment before adulthood so that children can communicate, attend school and become active in their communities.
The volunteers also met with Yeabsra Gebeyhu Hailmarim, the little girl who captured our hearts when she visited Canada in 2011 and 2012 to receive complex craniofacial treatment. Yeabsra is now thriving at school in Ethiopia and will continue to visit Yekatit for follow up care and future treatments.
The Hilton Addis Ababa generously donated four rooms in order to accommodate TF's Canadian medical volunteers in Ethiopia. This donation will allow us to redirect funds to provide comprehensive rehabilitation and surgery for 20 children in Ethiopia.
Peter Idoko, the Director of Business Development at the Hilton Addis Ababa, said, "Your work has a great impact for now and the future. We are proud to have partnered with you for this trip."
About Transforming Faces
Transforming Faces is a Canadian charity that empowers local multidisciplinary medical teams to provide free comprehensive cleft lip and palate care for children and adults in developing countries. This allows children to live full, healthy lives. A private charitable foundation funds TF's low administrative costs so 100% of all donations are used to transform children's lives. Visit www.transformingfaces.org for more information.
SOURCE: Transforming Faces Worldwide
For further information:
or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Debbie Silva, Communications Coordinator
Transforming Faces Worldwide
344 Bloor Street West, Suite 208
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3A7
Phone: 416 222 6581