Welcome to Cleft Africa!

Who we are

Cleft Africa is an initiative to give all poor Africans with cleft lip and palate, a common birth defect, access to the best possible treatment for their condition, so that they can live a life free of the health problems caused by cleft. To achieve this we collect donations and use them to finance surgeries for cleft patients, as well as specialized training for our African partner surgeons. So far we are active in five countries, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, but we are working to expand our services to help even more patients.

The aid structure

Several institutional and noninstitutional partners work together in Cleft Africa. Institutional partners include the German NGOs Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V. in Freiburg, the Rulenge-Ngara diocese (bishop Severine Niwemugizi) in Tanzania, the university teaching hospital Mbarara / Uganda, and others. Specialized training of local doctors in cleft treatment is available from DCKH's international network of cleft surgeons.

Key noninstitutional partners are the German maxillofacial surgeons Dr Dr Oliver Blume und Gunther Au-Balbach, who initiated the project, perform medical-professional supervision on a volunteer basis, and still visit Africa regularly to participate in surgical missions and share their knowledge, Dr Laurent Siborurema of the university teaching hospital Kigali, Rwanda, who works as a surgeon and an organizer, and surgeon Dr Deus Twesigye (Uganda) and anaesthesist Dr Emanuel Munyarugero from Mbarara, Uganda, who perform surgical missions throughout the region and provide care at Mbarara.

All partners share a longstanding dedication to supporting patients with cleft lip and/or palate. Dr Dr Oliver Blume und Gunther Au-Balbach have been active in Africa for more than 15 years. The partners' collaboration has expanded their ability to support cleft patients in the region and reduced administrative costs.

DCKH raises awareness of cleft, collects donations, and uses them to fund the cleft-related work of the other partners. The partners perform the cleft surgeries and other medical interventions, supply infrastructure such as hospital rooms, organize the cleft treatment work, or train local medical personnel in cleft treatment. The goal is a structure that is sustainable and well-rooted in local societies.

You can find further information about DCKH here:

Coronavirus update

Every three minutes, a cleft child is born somewhere in the world. As a result of the pandemic, many cleft children could not be treated in 2020. The need is particularly great now and COVID-19 continues to complicate the working conditions. Thanks to our local surgeons on site, who did everything in their power to continue helping, we were still able to make many surgeries possible last year. Our goal for 2021 is to finance 6,500 operations for cleft children in all Cleft Group countries combined.

Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe: DZI seal renewed for 2021

Careful use of the donations entrusted to us is one of our core principles. We keep our overhead costs low to be able to help as many patients as possible. We are very happy to announce that these efforts have again been recognized: The German Central Institute for Social Issues (Deutsches Zentral Institut für soziale Fragen, DZI) renewed for another year its certification of Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe, the initiator of The Cleft Group, as a charity conforming to the highest standards in the transparent, efficient and responsible use of donated funds. This marks the eighth year in a row we have been awarded the seal - a wonderful confirmation of our work.