Life-Changing Support for Sara in Ethiopia


Six-year-old Sara is receiving life-changing cleft care, thanks to Transforming Faces’ Ethiopian partner, and our generous supporters! Today she is thriving – but things were not always easy. Her mother shares Sara’s journey with us.

Remembering the day Sara was born

Sara and her family live in a small village called Nazareth – over 80km from the capital of Addis Ababa. She was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, which caused an opening on both sides of her mouth and affected her nose, lip and the roof of her mouth. Her mother recalls: “I was shocked when my baby was born! I had never even heard of cleft before.”

The local hospital where Sara was born did not provide the new mom with any information about cleft. Sara’s mom recalls:

“I left [the hospital] without knowing if my baby would live.”

Fortunately – Sara’s mom soon realized that they were not alone! They found out about TF’s Ethiopian partner, Yekatit 12 Hospital. That is the moment that everything changed.

Receiving comprehensive cleft care

When the family arrived at Yekatit 12 Hospital, Sara’s mom immediately received the information and support she needed. She had access to nutritional counselling and learned how to feed her newborn. She also learned the good news – that cleft was completely treatable. Not only would her baby survive, but with access to the right care she would have a bright future ahead of her.

Thanks to the nutritional counselling, Sara was able to reach a healthy weight to receive her cleft repair surgeries.


Sara’s mom says her life changed the moment she saw her daughter after her first repair surgery. She recalls that this was the moment that “I realized that my baby will live and go to school, just like the other kids around her!”

As Sara grows up, she’s continued to have access to the care and support of the Yekatit 12 Cleft Team. Sara and her mom travel to the capital once a month for treatments, and are receiving essential services like regular speech therapy, dental care, counselling and more!

Growing up

When Sara first started school – she really struggled to communicate. Because of her cleft, the other kids didn’t understand her, and that really bothered Sara.

But ever since beginning speech therapy at Yekatit 12, her communication has improved immensely. Her mother reports that today she loves going to school. Her favourite subject is English, and she wants to be a pilot when she grows up.

Sara will continue to receive ongoing comprehensive cleft care – including speech therapy – in the months and years to go. She has a bright future ahead!

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