Kebede Shiferaw is a 19 year old boy. He is from Bitagenet, a small city around Bonga, 550 km south west of Addis Ababa. He has 4 sisters and 5 brothers. He used to live with his parents but recently moved to Addis and is living with his aunt to allow him to access care at Yekatit 12 Hospital without long transportation times.
His father is a farmer and reported that he was at first shocked by his son’s cleft but “he is proud that he has him.” His father described Kebede as an isolated child who does not like to play with his age groups, probably due to teasing.
In many countries, access to treatment is non-existent or very limited in quality and quantity. Many new parents of babies born with cleft are not given support or information on the latest treatment options. Many children are abandoned shortly after birth, or kept hidden away from society. Some find it difficult to attend school, communicate easily, find jobs or get married.
Kebede visited our hospital for the first time after he had lip surgery at Atati hospital in Welqitie when he was 17. His palate was repaired at Yekitit 12 hospital in 2011. The ENT surgeon diagnosed him to have a unilateral perforated ear drum. He was receiving speech therapy for a while and he is still following up his treatment at ENT and dental clinics.
Kebede did not go to school until he had palate surgery. The main reasons were his hearing and speech problem. Now he is very happy and is a first grade student.
Kebede is pictured, second from left, at a PACT speech training session in Ethiopia.