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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 (www.noma.nl), a charity set up in 1996 that sends teams of volunteer surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists to the Childrens Noma Hospital in Sokoto, Nigeria.

Since 2000, Facing Africa has been working closely with it’s European partners AWD Stiftung Kinderhilfe (Germany) (www.noma-project.de) and The Dutch Noma Foundation . So far (Feb 2013) we have raised over £ 2.75 million (about US $ 4.4 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 6% of Facing Africa’s turnover is spent on administration.

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Children can be very cruel. They are particularly cruel to other children, not many adults, because the consequences are usually slight. Without a theory of mind they are blind to the feelings aroused in others. Main reason why our children patients drop out of school is because they are being teased constantly by their peers. The surgery Amlakalgne had in October 2016 makes such a big change to her face and to her life: she will not be bullied anymore. ... See MoreSee Less

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During the great Ethiopian famine in the 80's Derebew was a toddler in South Wollo. His family as many others starved. Derebew survived the famine but his face was eaten away by NOMA, a disease that is triggered by severe malnutrition. Many mistakes were made in the 80s, both by the Western and by the Ethiopian Government. The West was criticized for not reacting to the crisis in time; the Ethiopian Government for its spending on civil war. After more than 20 years Facing Africa could put things right. We reconstructed Derebew's face and gave him his dignity back. Feels like justice. Picture: Derebew before and after his surgery in October 2016. ... See MoreSee Less

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