Every day, Transforming Faces is working to ensure that children born with cleft lip and palate in developing countries have access to cleft care services. An important component of our comprehensive approach is to build long-term, sustainable solutions in our program countries through training programs for local medical staff, investing in infrastructure and supporting local fundraising initiatives.

This January, Berhane Abera, speech pathologist for our cleft care program in Ethiopia attended the Advanced Cleft Speech Training held in Kumasi, Ghana. Conducted by the renowned Dr. Catherine Crowley from Columbia University Teacher’s College, this three-day long training session featured a combination of classroom lectures, and practical patient assessments and visits.

Training 1

This training initiative aimed to strengthen the skill sets of young speech therapists so they are better equipped to support cleft lip and palate patients with speech disorders. Like Berhane, most of the trainees were speech assistants from different parts of Africa including Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana. Berhane notes how this created an environment conducive to sharing ideas and lessons learned.

Through this training, Berhane learned new speech therapy techniques, and had the opportunity to try out those techniques on-site with patients. She also learned how to better identify patients in need of a secondary surgery, and the type of surgery required. She notes that the training helped her “to identify my strengths and my weaknesses in providing therapy for cleft speech patients”.

Back in Ethiopia, Berhane is excited to try out some of these newly learned techniques. She is confident that she will be able to deliver even better speech therapy support thanks to  the strategies and techniques learned through this training.

Transforming Faces supported Berhane’s participation in this Smile Train initiative. In addition to this, Carol Scheffner Hammer, PhD, Yana Pleshivoy, MS CCC-SLP, and Darcy Abrams, MS CCC-SLP, supervised and assisted with the training. A huge thank you to everyone who made this initiative such a huge success!

Training 2