It was a joyous day for people living with cleft and facial deformity in Taraba as Cleft and Facial Deformity Foundation (CFDF) in conjunction with TY Danjuma Foundation flag off a free medical surgery for the patients at the Taraba State Specialist Hospital in Jalingo.
For the 62 year old Musa, who was born with tumour, CFDF and TY Danjuma foundation are God sent to the less privileged living with cleft and facial deformity in Taraba and Nigeria.
“Nature has made me this way, I have lived with this condition for over 62 years, but today God has used these people to change my story.” A man who simply gave him his name as Musa told our correspondent on his hospital bed at Taraba State Specialist hospital in Jalingo.
Musa who was full of appreciation to Cleft and Facial Deformity Foundation (CFDF), and the TY Danjuma Foundation for sponsoring the free surgical cleft and facial deformity surgical programme for over 40 people, said he had suffered stigmatisation and decimation over the years.
For him, Dr. Seidu Bello, Director of Cleft and Facial Deformity Foundation was a God sent particularly to the less privilege people living with cleft and facial tumour, but lack the financial standing to go to Abuja and other places for operation.
Like Musa, many of the patients with one form of cleft and facial deformity or the other, nothing miraculous than the sudden change in their ugly natural faces have ever happen to them.
“Cleft lip caused my teeth to be all out. I looked like a wild animal and I hated myself and abandon the use of mirror for years because anytime I see myself in the mirror, I hate myself the more. But today, the shape of my face is a complete story on its own for those that know me before.” A lady in her mid 20s who declined to mention her name told our reporter.
As cleft patients and indeed Tarabans continue to talk of the technology Dr. Bello and his team have brought to bear, Dr. Bello said, they are only providing a ‘Nigeria solution to a Nigerian problem.’
“A lot of people with cleft and facial disorder can’t afford to pay for the surgery. Some privilege ones can afford, but many can’t. So, when I discovered this and as a specialist in the field, I simply assembled a team to help treat such cases.
“I believe that we can’t depend on government for everything. We can provide certain services as individuals because government cannot do everything for us. So, in a away, I am just providing Nigerian solution to Nigeria problem and discouraging over dependence on government and foreign aide,” Bello told National Mirror in an interview.
According to him, Cleft and Facial Deformity Foundation an NGO based in Abuja has for the past 5 years effectively treated over 600 cases in 14 outreach programmes across Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi, Abuja and now Taraba state.
Dr. Bello explained that cleft lip and palate caused openings on the lip and palate with congenital defects and in most cases causes are unknown, but occasionally genetics and some environmental factors could be responsible.
In the case of facial tumour which is refer to as facial swellings, Bello said such swellings can occur at all ages, with causes largely unknown. He however said, Locked Jaw which is the inability to open the mouth usually occur as a result of ear infection in infancy that spread from the ear to the joint and trauma to the joint in infancy.
The collaboration with TY Danjuma Foundation according to the team leader was not just unique in the life of the CFDF, but a major breakthrough in the life of the foundation.
“We applied consistently to TY Danjuma Foundation for 3 years without success. General TY Danjuma should be commended not only because of his large heart for philanthropy, but also of an unequal managerial capacity with sophisticated professionals that are managers of his foundation.
“Given the complexity of the process, we see this collaboration as an endorsement of our modest contribution to the project of alleviating of Nigerians which appear to be the main reason God has sent Gen. TY Danjuma to this nation,” Bello told the gathering at the flag off of the programme in Jalingo.
While challenging professionals in other fields to see what they can do to intervene in various sectors, Bello said it was unacceptable that Nigerians still go about with psychological disturbance of facial deformities while the rest of the population look elsewhere. “The era of depending on foreigners for funding is gradually coming to an end, we must rise up and do something to solve our problems.”
Abdulmutalab Kabiru who came from Niger State with his four year old son for Palate operation, commended CFDF for the wonderful and selfless work they are doing and urged NGOs, corporate Organisations, private individuals and government bodies to emulate TY Danjuma and CFDF to fight facial deformity, saying cleft does not discriminate on the basis of tribe or locality.
In her remarks, Miss Janet Ajala, the Taraba Coordinator of TY Danjuma foundation, the chief sponsor of the surgery programme thanked cleft foundation team for the good work it was doing for humanity.
Ajala urged the foundation to sustain its services to ensure it cuts across the nooks and crannies of the country in the interest of humanity. According to her, one of the cardinal objectives of TY Danjuma foundation was to ensure free medical services to all Nigerians and pledge their support to such programmes at all times.
Dr. Rimande Joel, the Medical Director of Specialist Hospital Jalingo, venue of the excercise, thanked the team for the programme. He noted that the free surgery had availed the less privileged in the society the opportunity to access free medical solution to their problems, which he said might have put them through economic and social stress over the years.
He thanked Gov Darius Ishaku for providing the enabling atmosphere for the hospital to play host to such a life-saving medical programme and call on well to do individuals to support programmes that would touch the lives of ordinary people in the society.