Our annual Kathmandu Festival, a fund raiser for our Corrective Surgery Program, was held in September, with a good turnout of families enjoying momos and other delicious Nepalese foods, live music and dance performances, and a colorful marketplace with imported clothing, jewelry and other items for sale. The funds raised will be used to sponsor corrective surgeries for children in Nepal with disfiguring congenital defects.
In October, CMAF Executive Director Carol Vernal flew to Nepal to visit Dr. Rai and the mobile medical surgical team. She will remain in Nepal through mid-January 2013, developing new medical outreach partnerships with other health and social service organizations to reach more children in need of medical assistance.
Two percent of Nepalese children are born each year with a congenital defect that is easily detectable at birth. This is a higher rate than children born in Western countries. Some contributing factors are poor nutrition, inherited tendencies, absence of pre-natal care, and mineral deficiencies during gestation. For many children, surgical intervention may be their only chance to be freed from the stigma, shame and handicaps associated with a congenital defect. While some organizations focus on the important work of correcting cleft lip and palate defects, CMAF seeks to assist children with other types of birth defects – children that would have no other alternative if CMAF did not assist them. We help locate children in need (often by word-of-mouth), educate families about their options, and work to dispel the fears and beliefs related to the cause of the defects.
CMAF partners with a specially trained Nepalese Mobile Surgical Team, lead by world-renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Shankar Rai, to treat a broad range of congenital defects. These include syndactylism (webbed fingers), large facial moles, polydactyly (supernumerary fingers or toes) and hypospadius (male genito-urinary problems). Surgical reconstruction offers these children with functional and aesthetic benefits, transforming their futures with the hope of a normal childhood and better life. Villagers with post-traumatic injuries such as ulcerated wounds and disfiguring scars are also eligible for surgical treatment. Services are provided to those in need at no charge, regardless of caste, religion, or political beliefs.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with many Nepalese children living in remote villages where medical treatment is unavailable due to geographic restraints, poverty, lack of medical supplies and/or absence of trained personnel. CMAF addresses these barriers by providing support for the Nepalese Mobile Surgical Team; soliciting, collecting and delivering needed medical supplies; and assisting with post-operative services such as physical therapy, dressing changes, and support for families.