We are climbing Kilimanjaro - the world’s highest free standing mountain - to raise money for the children’s charity CLEFT.
What is CLEFT?
CLEFT supports the development of long term sustainable care for disadvantaged children in developing countries by training local surgeons and funding integrated care (speech therapy and dental care) facilities.
It also supports research in the UK into the causes of clefts in the hope of discovering ways to prevent them occurring.
Alanna was born with a bi-lateral cleft palate and so the charity is something very close to her heart.
A cleft is a birth defect where the roof of the mouth and /or lip and gum line do not develop properly, causing facial disfigurement and problems with eating, talking and breathing.
However, Alanna feels lucky (see Alanna’s story below) as she has had several operations to repair her cleft.
Many children in developing countries are not so lucky, and Alanna wants to change that for as many of them as possible.
For a donation of £25, CLEFT, through its support of integrated clinics, is able to provide surgery and long term sustainable care for a child born with a cleft in a developing country.
We have set an ambitious target – to support at least 300 children who are not as lucky as her – and so are trying to raise a minimum of £7,500.
Read Alanna’s Story to see how lucky she feels, and then help her to help those less lucky by donating via this page.
If you can support one or more child that is fantastic, otherwise provide what you can, or club together with friends and make a joint donation to help one or more children.
Thanks for helping others be lucky too.
Alanna’s StoryThree days after I was born doctors realised that the roof part of my mouth (the palate) had failed to develop (my mouth and nose were not separated by anything), and that I was unable to eat.
I couldn’t suck or swallow milk by myself like normal babies and so had to be fed using a special bottle which mum and dad used to squirt milk down my throat.
If I had been born in the developing world there is a strong possibility that I would not have survived.
By the time I was 5 years old, I had spent 4 months of my life in hospital having a total of 7 operations to try and construct a palate in my mouth.
This complex surgery involved using existing tissue to gradually create and close the roof of my mouth.
Eventually it was successful, but the operations and recovery were very painful, and at times did not go smoothly.
After the operations finished I was able to start eating properly, but learning to speak was difficult because of the scar tissue in my mouth.
Also my gum line was very wonky and my teeth were coming through at all sorts of strange angles.
I found it really hard to make certain sounds that come naturally (sharp sounds like T’s), and had to have lots of speech therapy and more operations before I could speak properly.
But now I can, and I feel very lucky.
Going to senior school for me also meant the start of 5 years of invasive and painful dental intervention to reshape my gum line and straighten my teeth, which has also been very successful.
The original palate the surgeons created however, didn’t grow and develop as normal, because of the scar tissue.
By 2018 I was starting to find it hard to produce certain sounds again and to project my voice, which made it hard for me to carry on with drama which I love.
I had to concentrate really hard to make certain sounds, which I found increasingly difficult, but still managed to play a lead role in a school Shakespeare production at the Theatre Royal in Winchester.
In February 2019, I had another complex operation to extend the length of my palate (by taking tissue from the inside of my cheeks and using it to elongate the palate at the back of my mouth).
Again there were complications but I’m now recovering well.
I feel very lucky as things have worked out fine for me, but many children in developing countries are not so lucky.
I really want to do something about that, so Dad and I are climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money to help children who aren’t as lucky as me.
Please help us to make them lucky too.