Cleft Surgery for Poor Children in Bangladesh

by Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh

HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh has been extremely busy in the past few months! Despite Cyclone Mahasan that hit our village of Cox’s Bazar, we have continued to provide lifesaving health care services to those most in need. HOPE Foundation has held two cleft surgery camps in collaboration with our recent partner Smile Train, working tirelessly to give those children a second chance at life. HOPE also received a visit from our obstetric fistula surgeon, the world renowned Dr. Steven Arrowsmith, and put on an obstetric fistula repair camp during the cyclone! Because of these efforts, 18 women are now cured of their incredibly debilitating condition. In addition to providing high quality health care to thousands of women and children, these specialized care camps make HOPE a place for advanced medical specialty, which is rare given just how rural and remote of areas we are working in.

HOPE has formed new partnerships as well. On top of gaining new corporate sponsors, HOPE is now partnering with Resurge International, a California-based organization that conducts medical missions to cure burn, trauma and cleft in the world’s most desperate of places. In South Asia, more children die of severe burns than HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Respiratory disease! This is due to the fact that women and children use open fire cooking pits to cook and light their homes. Often times their clothing is too loose from the body and catches on fire. Other times children are playing too closely to the fire and lack adult supervision. We are now working to address these severe burns and provide reconstructive surgery to hands and feet that have been rendered useless due to burn injuries. HOPE is looking forward to October when Resurge International will come to Cox’s Bazar and provide 50 surgeries to disabled individuals!

In the near future HOPE will be expanding its educational and training opportunities for rural women and girls, and provide not only them with a livelihood and advanced skill, but also be increasing the capacity of Cox’s Bazar to help bring themselves out of poverty. In educating more girls in the health care field, we are giving them the skills training that will employ them for the rest of their lives, while helping the community build better access to trained health care workers. It is essential that we continue to build the capacity of the region in which we work, as it is the most sustainable way forward. HOPE wants to ensure we are always giving back to these people in the most appropriate and generous form.

Thank you for your incredible support to HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh. Without YOU, we could not do any of this lifesaving work!


Kate Grant visiting a recovering fistula patient.
Kate Grant visiting a recovering fistula patient.

Hope Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh is pleased to share the great strides and successes as of late! On January 28th, 2013, our Community Midwifery Program began with the students attending their first class. This program is the first Bangladeshi Government recognized Midwifery program in all of Bangladesh! HOPE will train and graduate 100 midwives by the year 2016. In total, the course will run for 3 years, consisting of 2 years of study and the final year in an internship. The end goal of the program is to provide a supply of midwives that will be rigorously trained and capable of working in rural areas where accessibility to delivery and care services is vastly underdeveloped. The students who were chosen for this course are all local girls, living in and around Hope Foundation medical centers. This helps ensure that, once they graduate, these trained midwives can go back to their own communities and help deliver babies at home as independent practitioners or seek employment at the Hope Clinic near their homes. The midwives can also seek employment elsewhere, but by selecting girls who are living in rural areas they are more likely to stay in their communities to work and provide services to the rural women who are most at need. The use of trained midwives working with mothers while pregnant, during delivery, and postpartum, will facilitate a smoother and safer birth process.  Through the use of trained midwives, we can expand our outreach and education concerning rickets, and educate new mothers on how to provide adequate nutrition to their newborns and children to prevent this condition. Furthermore, midwives will be able to recognize birthing complications during delivery and after, and help these women in need to access appropriate medical attention immediately, as opposed to these women suffering for long periods of time, unaware that their condition can be treated. A greater access to midwives means more lives are saved, both mothers and babies!

From November 4-12, 2013, the world-renowned surgeon from Michigan, Dr. Steven Arrowsmith, returned to Bangladesh to conduct Hope’s third Fistula Camp. Possessing over 25 years of experience, Dr. Arrowsmith has worked all over the world, particularly in Africa, to treat women suffering from Obstetric Fistula. Fistula is a condition in which a small hole is created in the genitalia, a complication due mainly to difficult, prolonged labor. In Bangladeshi villages, most births are at home at the hands of untrained birth attendants who encourage premature bearing down as soon as labor pains begin. This painful labor can last for days and the effect of all that pressure can cause fistula. The prolonged labor also means that the baby dies inside the mother. Obstetric fistulas result in incessant, lifelong incontinence if untreated. The smell and the social stigma result in husbands abandoning their wives, since they do not know that the condition can be cured, and eventually these women become ostracized from their communities. Through our grassroots approach to locating and examining women for operation, we are treating these women and restoring their lives. 24 surgeries were completed by Dr. Arrowsmith during his 9 day camp.

November 26th through December 6th, HOPE Foundation’s partner Smile Bangladesh returned to Cox’s Bazar to hold a third Cleft Camp. The mission was led by Dr. Shahid Aziz, a Maxillo-facial surgeon from New Jersey, and a long-time friend of HOPE. Dr. Aziz brought along an entire team to complete 60 operations in 12 days.  Here at Hope, we are ecstatic that we are reaching an ever-increasing amount of patients!

The work of Hope Foundation is due to our kind supporters. We greatly thank you for all that you have committed, and because of your actions, we have saved the lives of thousands. Your contributions pay for cleft and fistula surgeries, the training of birth attendants and midwives, food for the patients while they are admitted into the hospital, and so much more! We cannot thank you enough for the support you have shown us and we look forward to a very bright future!

Dr. Aziz and a child he performed cleft surgery on
Dr. Aziz and a child he performed cleft surgery on


I have returned from my trip to Bangladesh in December 2010 for a medical mission with Nova Southeastern University medical students and physicians. This mission was planned to help the students learn about medical care in Bangladesh and to provide medical services to the poor at health camps in our hospitals and clinics in Bangladesh.

During the mission, the students and other volunteers gained a good perspective in tropical medicine, the differences between medical care for the rich and the poor in a developing country such as Bangladesh. They saw how the rich can get world class medicine in the main cities (at comparable prices to the West) and how the poor suffered from lack of access to any kind of healthcare in remote villages.

The disparity was shocking to the students.

While in Bangladesh, I managed to get to see some of the children who had cleft surgeries in November last year. They still come to the hospital for follow-up, as some kinds of clefts require therapy to improve feeding and improve speech problems. Some of the poor people in the area had not realized that their children's clefts could be completely healed and now the awareness of this surgery has blossomed. Due to this increase in awareness, and ongoing educational activities carried out by the hospital, the plan for this year is to complete 60 surgeries in one week.

I wish to thank all those who donated last year to our first ever cleft mission, and welcome our new donors who are helping to change the life of a child this year.


Iftikher Mahmood

The cleft surgeries in Cox's Bazar have begun this week (8 Nov. 2010). Follow the blog set up by photographer Bruce Byers, an independent photographer who has travelled to Bangladesh to capture the cleft mission.

Health camps continuing twice a month in rural areas of Moheshkhali, Harbang, Ukhia, Khurushkhul. These health camps are focusing on women and children. Children with cleft are being screened for surgery. Ongoing ad campaign to identify children with cleft lip and cleft palate. Newspaper advertisement will take place in October just prior to the surgery date.

Hospital President,and Bangladesh Country Director, Jalal Uddin Shoaib, will be visiting the US in September. In addition to meeting with the Hope USA stakeholders and Board of Directors, he will also be meeting Smile Bangladesh, surgical team who will be conducting the cleft surgeries in November.


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Organization Information

Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh

Location: Miami, FL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Iftikher Mahmood
North Miami Beach, Florida United States

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