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Facing Africa BBC Documentary: Make Me A New Face – Hope For Africa’s Hidden Children

Broadcast in June 2010 on the BBC, this documentary follows Ben Fogle and a Facing Africa surgical team as they work to rebuild the faces of Noma victims in Ethiopia.

A selection of letters and e-mails received following the BBC2 documentary presented by Ben Fogle in June 2010
Dear Chris,
Saw Ben Fogle’s programme and I have never been so moved.  I’ve seen hundreds of films on AIDS, Malaria, etc, but this one just struck a chord I cannot get out of my mind.  I have made a direct donation of £50 and will arrange a Direct Debit.  Could you please send me any literature you have that I can hand out to my friends, Church, Masonic Lodge etc
Alan Robinson
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Dear Chris
Just finished watching the programme and what a joy it was to watch.  How wonderful to be able to make such a difference to these children’s lives.  Well done to all the doctors, they do a fantastic job.  I can only make a small donation but hopefully one day I will win the lottery…
Jenny
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Please can you confirm that your organization does not promote or fund religion or or religious belief as part of your program. It is my intention to recommend your organisation as a nominated charity to the Foundation Beyond Belief, an umbrella charity that is specific to secular causes..

Thank You and best regards
Steve
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Hello ChrisI can only be one of many contacting you right now having watched Ben Fogles ‘Make Me A New Face’. I was staggered and in disbelief at the injuries this children and young adults have to bear for due to such seemingly avoidable causes.I have to help, I want to help any way I can

Please feel free to contact me by way of return or on the numbers below

Thank you!

Althea

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Dear Chris,

Tonight’s BBC programme led me to your charity’s website, which I have read with great interest.

Though I might not be able to help financially at the moment, if you ever need part of your website translated into French to reach out to more people across the globe, I would be happy to help you in my free time.

Best wishes,

Caroline
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Dear Mr Lawrence,
I just watched the documentary about Noma on the BBC tonight, and I was deeply moved by the plight of these children and how hard it is for them. I would like to try and do something about it, but have absolutely no scientific ability and a fear of blood – so the idea of changing my career to that of a plastic surgeon, is somewhat out of the question!
This may seem a stupid question, but I was wondering if you knew of any ways that I could do fundraising in my local community. I have only ever been taking part in fundraisers, never organizing them, so I don’t really know where to start.
I think the work you are doing is amazing, changing so many childrens lives. Your charity, and the children are so inspiring, and make me so thankful for what I have!
Yours sincerely,
Florence (16)
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Must say what a fantastic job facing Africa is doing
Looking forward to raising as much money as we can for your charity!!
Regards
Julian
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Congratulations. It came through very well. It is a tribute to your organisation and drive.
Mark McGurk
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I was most impressed by the report on Noma this evening.    I had half expected that it would be similar to the work of ‘Smile Train’ for facial clefts.   These deformities are much worse and it is very good that teams are prepared to give time and resources to help those in need.
I have given a donation by e-mail but would be glad of a copy of any future literature.   Maybe next year I may be able to do a sponsored walk for Facing Africa.
Best wishes,    Chris ManningChris
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dear chris and terry

we watched last night. well…half watched. some of  it was just too gory for me. but the work you do is just fantastic. you should be very proud of yourselves. Joe
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Dear Chris,
I hope and trust that  you are beseiged with emails after last nights TV programme!  I think it was the most moving bit of televison I have ever seen.
My wife and I live in Addis Ababa but even I hadnt heard of Noma – indeed I only discovered your programme was on when searching for the repeat of Sundays Dimbleby Ethiopia programme.
If there is ever any way we can help, eg by accomodating any visitors to do with your organisation, let us know. We own a large house in Addias and frequently provide accomodation for all sorts of UK visitors…..
Frank and Ann
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Hi,
You probably have thousands of emails after the BBC2 program last night, sorry!  But I was really moved by what I saw and would like to help somehow.  I would like to join your charity if that is an option, I couldn’t see it on the website?  Also how could I donate by direct debit?  Please let me know if there are any other ways to help too.
Thank you,
Clare
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Dear Mr. Lawrence,

I live in France and last night I saw a BBC program about Noma. As I am a mother of a small child I was outraged that this can happen today.

I see that your association is running in the UK, Holland and in Germany, but I have been unable to find anything in France. Is this the case?

I hope that I can help.

Kind regards
Caroline

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Hi ya ChrisI was so moved by the programme that went out on BBC2 last night that I have looked you up on the internet via the Facing Africa website.Please could I have as much information from you as possible so that I can raise as much money as I can for your wonderful charity.

As I’ve said to my colleagues in work this morning – if you can spent £20 on a pot of face cream you can send £20 to this charity.

THANK YOU for the wonderful work you are doing and I sincerely hope that I can be of some help to the charity in the not too distant future.

My Details are

Brenda

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Dear Chris,
I’m sure that you must have received a huge response to your TV programme yesterday evening which was very well done.
I was very interested to watch,having worked in Africa most of my working life (over 30 years) as an agriculturalist, but only becoming more acquainted with Ethiopia and it’s peculiar challenges in the past 5 years.
Obviously in the long term preventative measures such as improved hygiene and nutrition have to be addressed, but in the immediate future it was disturbing to see the number of sufferers who need help.
The one aspect that did not come over in the programme is how much you are able to integrate and train the Ethiopian professionals to assist you to increase the amount of support you are able to provide. There did not appear to be any local surgeons directly involved with the operations possibly because they are so complex.
Anyway congratulations on the great work that you are doing and I should be glad to contribute to any part of your programme devoted to training the Ethiopians who may be able to assist you to increase your activities.
With best regards,
Tim
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Dear Chris,
I just wanted to say how very moved I was by the extraordinary documentary shown last night on BBC 2.  It was one of the most well put together programmes that I have ever seen.  Ben Fogle was just so perfect as a presenter and his humanity, compassion, empathy, kindness and loving respect towards the children, made the programme very special.  I had no idea that this condition existed and the tragedy is that its root cause is malnourishment because of poverty.  It has been 20 years since Live Aid and it is so sad to still see the people of Ethiopia struggling with such life changing conditions.  The face is the window to our souls and our main means of expressing feelings and communicating with the rest of the human race,  and your programme  really captured the isolation that these children endure.  In this contradictory age we treat so called celebrities as heroes, when in fact we should be looking at people such as those in your medical team, who give up their time – probably their annual holidays, to travel out to Africa and help these children – they should be treated as the true heroes of our society.  They also showed such respect and kindness to these children and it was a great lesson to all of us to hear what the leading surgeon said about returning to England to deal with patients who have relatively trivial ‘problems’.  It has made me appreciate what I have and was one of the most powerful pieces of filming I have ever seen.  Of course the biggest heroes of this film are the children and their bravery was touching to behold.
Well done to all of you.  Please feel free to forward this email onto Ben, the production team who also did a great job, and of course all those wonderful skilled medics.
I work as a freelance writer and PR consultant and if you ever need any additional voluntary support with your work, then please get in touch with me.  I would be delighted to help.  I have been supporting The Smile Train charity and they recently sent me a DVD of a documentary on their work that won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 2008.  May I suggest that you submit your documentary for consideration to the Academy, also to BAFTA and the Cannes Film Festival.  Winning such an award could possibly help you to get the documentary distributed to a wider audience across the world and it would help to bring greater awareness to many more people worldwide.  I also work as a freelance journalist and covered an exhibition put on by ‘Saving Faces’  – see attached article.  You may already know about this organisation, if not, then they may be worth approaching.
I am away in the US from 27/7 until 19/8.
With warm regards to you and all your team,
<image003.jpg>
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Dear Chris,I am writing to express how moved and shocked I am after watching a Documentary ‘Make me a new face: hope for Africa’s hidden children’  which was broadcasted on BBC2 yesterday (9 June) at 9pm.I can’t find words to describe how I feel after watching it …….. I was moved by the tragedy of the kids and by the incredible work of the surgeons. Let me just say that I was speechless through the whole Documentary and when it was over I couldn’t stop crying. I feel especially sorry for little girl Mestikima. Do you have any idea what is going on with her now? Has she had any more treatments since the Documentary was filmed?

I would like to help and heal all these kids but the only thing I can do is to donate some money to Facing Africa which I will do on a regular basis. I will also visit your webiste regularly.

Thank you very very much for establishing this charity and for helping those kids. Thank you also for the documentary. I didn’t know about Noma problem before. It also made me realize that I keep forgetting how wonderful my life is and how beautiful my body is.

Kind regards,
Zofia

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That was a wonderfully moving film on TV last night, no-one could resist being touched by those poor kids in Ethiopia!
John
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Chris
Your team’s documentary aired on the Beeb last night moves me to contact you.
Your ability to make things happen for these wonderful kids deserves greater support globally.
In whatever small way I can, I want to help.
I’ll start with donating cash. I’m not a medic, but I am an organiser/ mobiliser.
Can we help to bring kids to the UK for surgery as well as getting more surgeons out there ?
If one UK team goes once a year then how many other countries can be encouraged to send out a team once a year ?
To what extent can we get pharma companies to help with antibiotics distribution ?
How can we get the message across to parents to bring their kids forward ? To banish the myths that cause so much more suffering ?
Not for a minute do I suppose that  points above are revelatory – but if you need people to help you achieve your goals please do not hesitate to let me know how.
Phil
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Dear Chris,After watching last nights documentary on children suffering from Noma in Ethiopia I just wanted to extend my praise for such a wonderfully inspiring, although devestating programme. I had never heard of Noma before, and was totally shocked by the suffering of those children, I thought Ben Fogle was wonderfully sensitive and empathic towards them, and I was humbled by the bravery of the children.  The surgical team deserve every praise for the magnificent work that they do.I have looked at your website, and I am going to try to do something myself to help this cause, and it was the most moving programme I have ever seen and it has made me want to try and help in some way. I am currently a PLAN child sponsor, but wondered if you have a similar donation method.

Thank you for doing such important work and thankyou to the BBC for showing this to us.

Sincerely yours,

Laura

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Dear Chris,
Just saw the Ben Foggle programme last night on BBC2. Still in a state of shock that such things happen and would like to set up a monthly donation to Facingafrica.
I work in Holland and would like to make the donation in Euro’s- is it possible to do this? Your  website suggests it is but the mandate deals in account numbers/sort codes etc but I think an IBAN number is needed from Europe?
Best regards
Paul
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Please will send us a donation form for Facing Africa NOMA.   We were most impressed by Ben. Fogle’s documentary last night – he was brilliant with those poor children and if you are in touch with him please will you pass on our congratulations on bringing this appalling suffering of these darling children to our notice.
Yours sincerely,
Julia
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Hi there Chris,
So, there I was comfortably sitting at home watching TV last night when Ben Fogel’s documentary highlighted and in my case presented me with something I had no idea existed and the issues surrounding Noma’s and the  possibility to increase the quality of life for children and adults and families living with or affected by Noma’s. I was stunned I have to say. Not necessarily the disfigurement of the faces but by the general courage and compassion of the people in the documentary. I was humbled and I was touched. I have worked in Education (was a teacher for many years) in an AIDS/HIV charity and now a wildlife charity and strongly believe in the power of educating our next generation and starting the empathy toward fellow man and beast at an early age. Does Facing Africa have a Youth and Education department and go into schools or write resources for schools to use in conjunction with the curriculum..to raise awareness and to encourage sponsorship?
I would love to be apart of something like that if you did.
I understand you are busy but would love to hear back from you if possible.
All the very best,
Kindest Regards, Antonia
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I saw the film on BBC2 last night and was deeply shocked, not least by my complete ignorance that such a terrible affliction existed. I have just been diagnosed with MS and had been feeling a bit sorry for myself – but this puts thigng in perspective.

 May your work and fundraising prosper, and primary healthcare eventually be able to progress to the point that poor parents can be educated to watch out for early symptoms and be able to access medication at the earliest stage…
Hazel
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Mr.Chris Lawrence,
FACING AFRICA
Thank  you for  bringing this important BBC  program to our attention. I certainly look forward to watching the program when it airs next Monday evening.
I must seize this opportunity to congratulate you  personally,and your Facing Africa Organization for the tremenduous work you have continued to do to  bring global attention to the innocent victims of noma. When we started our  research on the pathogenesis and prevention of noma in Nigeria in 1963,  we immediately realized that we were working on a  forgotten disease which did not feature in the health policies of the countries affected as well as in the health surveillance radar of international organizations like the WHO..Thanks to the dedicated efforts of organizations like the AWD Foundation, Dutch Noma Foundation, Facing Africa, Nestle’s Foundation,the US Public Health Service,and several others,,
the picture has changed significantly in the last one to two decades..There is still a lot of work to be done to reach the goal of elimination of noma, but we remain optimistic.
Please, keep up the Excellent Work in the Service of Human kind. Thank you.
Sincerely,
C.O.Enwonwu,PhD;MDS;BDS(Bristol); ScD(MIT);OON;FAS(Nigeria)
Professor of Biomedical Sciences & Microb Pathogenesis;
Research ! America Global Health Ambassador;
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Dear Mr Lawrence
 
I just wanted to drop you a brief line to say what a fantastic job you are doing to help the poor children who are suffering from NOMA in Africa.
 
I had absolutely no idea about this dreadful disease until I watched Ben Fogle’s programme on BBC2 last night which prompted a bit of further research on my part.
 
It is so upsetting to see such terrible disfigurement and how this alienates and restricts the development of the children who are lucky enough to “survive”.  I thought the programme handled an extremely sensitive situation with respect and quiet recognition of those who are doing all they can to make things better – and this of course includes you.
 
Your website contains some very hard hitting images – uncomfortable to view but nonetheless essential.  It is very informative, heartbreaking and uplifting.  I also see that you are based just down the road from me – I live in Cherhill, between Calne and Marlborough.  I had a feeling that you were somewhere in Wiltshire when I saw the sponsorship efforts of Dauntseys School on the website..!
 
Please accept my very best wishes for all your wonderful work.
 
With Kind Regards
 
Jo 
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Hello I am one of the medical directors at Great Ormond Street Hospital  I watched the film to see my colleagues work .I thought the program was very moving and very well done I would like to find out more about the charity and think of ways I  and my children can help . What is the best way ?  barbara 
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Hello Chris,
I was so impressed by the BBC documentary which I switched on by default. Ben Fogle was so understanding.
I had never heard of this disease. A total eye opener. It got all my many problems / issues into perspective.
Mestikma, just one of many, struck me poignantly as a lovely little girl, similar age to my own daughter, and just so so brave. One can’t imagine how she might feel. What a wonderful family to take her in as one of their own. My heart went out to them.
It all must leave us feeling how many similar cases and disadvantaged people there are in Ethiopia alone.
I will keep an eye on the website and see if there are any ways in which I might be of some practical help in the future,
Kind Regards
Robert
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I was profoundly moved by the documentary on 9th June regarding the young people in Africa who are suffering from this terrible disease but also incredibly struck by the dedication of the team that went out to make such a difference to their lives. I wish I had skills to offer the team myself but i work as a child psychologist and in the light of what these children need that seems hardly important when compared to the reconstruction of their faces. My work involves children with physical disabilties and long-term health conditions so I found the programme incredibly informative and enlightening about what some children have to endure in countries where having enough to eat can be the single greatest factor in their life.
Keep up the good work,
yours sincerely
Dr. Christine 
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Dear Chris Lawrence,

I’m sure you will be inundated with messages following the showing of  “Make me a New Face” on BBC2 the other evening.
I wanted to write to say how heartbreaking, moving but also inspiring the programme was. It was also massively humbling.
Unfortunately, I do not have a fortune to donate, nor do I have any medical or nursing expertise to offer, and I’m not sure running across the Sahara is necessarily on the cards…. However, I would like to support Facing Africa NOMA in some way, volunteering time (perhaps a day every fortnight/month) and perhaps offering marketing/publishing/organisational skills instead.
I imagine your time can be better spent, but I would appreciate it if you could put me in touch with someone who might be interested in taking this further.
In the meantime, I wish you all the best with your amazing work,
yours,
Ruth
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 To Mr Lawrence

I had never heard of the noma disease until I saw the documentary on BBC 2 on 9th June but I was truly moved by the very sad situation that the sufferers find themselves in. I think that the work your charity does is inspiring and gives stigmatised people, in particular children, a hope of a more normal life in society.

I plan to donate further in the future

Thank you for your email

Rebecca

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Access to health care is often very poor in rural Ethiopia, partly due to physical isolation, but also related to the weak position of the issue within national priority setting. It is very likely, that Nyaluk, pictured below, has never been to hospital or undergone any medical treatment. None of her 4 children were born in the hospital. We will never be able to fully comprehend the feelings of our rural patients, feelings of people who have always lived with long established traditional laws, languages, dress, religion, sacred ceremonies, rituals, healers, and remedies. When they arrive to our care in Addis Ababa sometimes after days of journeying through the countryside, they are faced with the complete unknown: white people inspecting their faces, asking them questions they have never been asked before, trying to get them into routine of sleeping, showering and eating. People like Nyaluk are rarely given the opportunity to represent their own perspectives and understanding of their health and their views on the actions to be taken to improve it. We always ask our patients what they want, what they expect and how they FEEL about surgery. It is heart-breaking to see some of them walk away from a possibly life changing operation because they are so overwhelmed by it all. After spending most of her childhood and adult life with face affected by NOMA, getting married and having children, Nyaluk chose to have her surgery in May 2017 and October 2017. She is going to come back for revision in May 2018. Pictured below: Nyaluk before and after her surgery. ... See MoreSee Less

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