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Facing Africa Noma
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In 1998, Chris Lawrence heard about the terrible plight of the hundreds of thousands of children suffering the dreadful and shocking destructive and devastating effects of “Noma”.

He wanted to do something, anything to help, and contacted Allan Thom, a Consultant Orthodontist whom he had known for several years to ask if he had ever come across the disease.

Together, Chris and Allan researched, spoke to dozens of people, scoured the internet and finally conceived and registered the charity “Facing Africa – NOMA”. At first they groped around in the dark looking at a variety of countries in West Africa with known incidence of Noma but getting detailed information and answers was laborious and fraught with contradictions. Should they consider finding isolated Noma sufferers and bring them to England for months of complex facial operations or try to make up a team of volunteers to deal with children in their own environments? After weighty deliberations, it was agreed that it is far more effective to put together occasional expeditions to a chosen location in Africa and operate as often as volunteers could be found and as often as could be financially viable. Chris and Allan faxed, phoned and e-mailed doctors, surgeons and hospital administrators in a variety of West African countries, but with precious little result.

But on 2nd July 2000, Chris had an fortuitous meeting with Dr Klaas Marck, founder and President of Dutch Noma Foundation (, a charity set up in 1996 that sends teams of volunteer surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists to the Childrens Noma Hospital in Sokoto, Nigeria.

In the beginning of its journey Facing Africa were working closely with it’s European partners AWD Stiftung Kinderhilfe (Germany) ( and The Dutch Noma Foundation. Since 2009 Facing Africa fund and organises two bi annual surgical trips to Ethiopia independently. So far (Feb 2018) we have raised over £ 3.5 million (about US $ 4.85 million) which has been spent on funding the teams each year from Europe to Ethiopia (air fares, hotel accommodation, ground transportation medical equipment and supplies, hospital fees, scans, surgical instruments, capital expenditure), training schemes and many other essential expenses. It should be noted that less than 18% of Facing Africa’s turnover is spent on administration.

News & Events
Facing Africa October 2017 Mission video

Presenting Facing Africa October 2017 Mission video with a special thanks to Claire, our wonderful anesthetist, who managed to capture […]

Facing Africa on Savoo Search

We’re excited to announce Savoo Search, Save and Raise as our new fundraising partner, and we’d like to introduce you […]

God save “America” – America Molla – 3-year old Ethiopian girl with “noma”

This is America (the child with a blue necklace) with her brother, baby sister and her mum (Genet). No member […]

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1 week ago

Facing Africa

An amazing team of 20 medical volunteers are currently working at Nordic Medical Centre in Addis Ababa carrying out life changing surgeries on 30 patients suffering from noma and other severe facial deformities. Share, like and follow us for incredible heartwarming stories from May 2018 Mission. ... See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Facing Africa

This is a truly inspiring post from Davey MacManus who is a part of Facing Africa team and will be spending the next 8 weeks at Facing Africa House in Ethiopia healing the bodies and souls of our patients, please read - it is just an extraordinary insight into what our work is all about....Here it is:

Beautiful freaks

monkeys everywhere
theres no water, theres no electricity, so happy to be back in a world where this the norm, the goats are fat, grass green, a thunderstorm greets me, it’s like people kissing at the end of an eighties movies except God is the fucking fire engine here
this is where I belong, this is why I left music to become a Nurse
this bird cockatoo thing sticks its huge beak through the bars in my window, shoo I say, it squawks and fly’s away, it’s wings sound like they need oil
On my first night theres an impromptu disco started by a ten year old with half her face missing, ghoulish distorted kids with only bits of faces, teeth sticking out like the Dolomites, all crooked and horrid, huge tumours, lips like slices of melon
ghastly scary looking beautiful children dancing, whirling devils, it could be a scene from a horror movie but instead its an expression of freedom and solidarity
in their home villages they are hidden and ostracised, cover there faces permanently in blankets, here they are amongst their fellow distorted
first the girls dance, sticking their bums out, that tribal thing that no white person will ever conquer
then the boys dance, all macho, shoulders rolling, shaking their whole bodies in a frenzy, and the song ends and they hug each other in joy, it feels like at last we are together, the broken faced gang, we can stick our tongues out where our cheeks are not
Just on the outskirts of Addis Abba, in a complex (some fields with a fence to keep out hyenas) belonging to the Facing Africa charity, staying in a little guesthouse with another Nurse and a Doctor and a dentist, three of the most kind hearted people
Just down the lane is Africa House where 27 kids and some adults are basically in pre-op - awaiting surgery to repair their anomalies, They have little to do all day except eat (most are malnourished, some HIV so they need to fatten up in order to face surgery)
we will be here from start to finish, when they arrive with a blanket over their head, oil they leave with a new face
Next week a team of surgeons arrives and the lucky ones will get operated on, and a piece of their thigh will become their new cheek, their gamma eye will be removed and replaced with ugly stitches, all those fucking hideous teeth will ping in a metal dish like tiny church bells
using flip flops for pads
plank races
press-ups on your thumbs
one hand press ups
teaching guitar
assessing new patients (I’m certain she has HIV just by her look, order a test)
wound care (Poor four year old Venezuela crying and crying, the most heart rending cry)
with honey dressing which unfortunately attracts swarms of flies
ABX for Tala 10 yrs who came in with a cough, respiration rate 50
daily weights
Venezuela is four, she cries constantly, last night I heard her crying from 150 yards away, she is HIV and she's so scrawny she's been turned down for surgery the last few times because she has nowhere to take a graft from, her arms and thighs are just to little, and probably the same will happen again but everyone is hoping
I been sick since I got here, weak, stomach aah! the truth is the last few months just been treading water all the time, just existing, not living - I had to come here just to get away from frontline Nursing and return to a continent where people say thanks when you help them
when there is a sick child you forget all about any issues you may have and the child shines foremost in your mind, in a way their suffering is my healing, I know that sound strange but thats my truth
All names changed for confidentiality
permission to use photos legally obtained
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3 weeks ago

Facing Africa

May 2018 Mission has started! The first patients are arriving to Facing Africa House where they are met by a team of dedicated volunteer nurses and doctors and prepared for their surgeries. It is important to us that our patients are not only physically ready for their surgical treatment, but also understand well what is going to happen to them in the operating theatre and how they are going to look and feel after their surgery. ... See MoreSee Less

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