Dunia: An Update

IMG_3272I know that many of you are interested in following Dunia’s journey, so I thought you might like an update on how he’s doing at the beginning of 2017.

I’m happy to report that overall, our now 9-year-old is doing well. He now speaks and understands English beautifully, thanks to his two host families. Both Jennifer Crean and Kim Chaix have opened their homes and hearts to Dunia and are inspirational examples of humanity at its best. He is currently living with Kim and his family in Brooklyn and successfully progressing through another school year. Soccer, surfing and Taekwondo occupy his time when he’s not studying.

You may have heard that Dunia experienced a minor setback in the past week. While he is here, Dr. Dagum has agreed to continue operating on Dunia to improve his appearance and function of his new lips. Unfortunately, the most ideal approach, involving the placement of tissue expanders was unsuccessful due to the extensive tissue damage and scarring that took place after the chimpanzee attack. Dr. Dagum removed them this past week and is now planning an alternative approach. Despite some minor setbacks I continue to be amazed by the optimistic attitude of everyone involved, particularly Dunia. The dedication and charitable contribution of Dr. Dagum and the entire Stony Brook Medicine community has been phenomenal.

In terms of next steps, our original plan was to return Dunia to a private boarding school in the Congo after the school year, where he would be in a safe environment and could focus on his education. The Smile Rescue Fund would fund his room, board and education. However, current conditions now appear unsafe for his return as planned.

Lastly, thank you, our supporters for your interest in helping this child navigate toward a new life. Stay tuned for more updates as Dunia continues his journey!

Leon

Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine Partners with Smile Rescue Fund for Kids

Stony Brook Dental School Bake Sale

Jamila Balooch presents Dr.K with donation

bakesale

Stony Brook Dental School Bake Sale

cookies

Delicious CupCakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamila Balooch, a third-year dental student at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine attended a presentation given by Dr. Klempner at the annual Stony Brook Medicine Cleft Palate Symposium earlier this year.  During the lecture, she learned about some of the work done by the Smile Rescue Fund for Kids.  “I was touched by what I heard and knew I wanted to help”, said Jamila.

Jamila helped coordinate the efforts of the Stony Brook Pediatric Dentistry club and the American Association of Public Health Dentistry to raise money by having a bake sale.  They raised over $300!!  A big shout out to Jamila and her classmates and best of luck in their new career.  Interested in making a small donation?  Click the yellow button on the right.

Henry Schein Cares Recognize Smile Rescue Fund for Kids

Henry Schein, Inc., the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners, announced today that it has awarded the inaugural Henry Schein Cares Medal for medical health—an award that will be given annually to one organization that demonstrates excellence in expanding access to medical care for the underserved—to Hands Up for Haiti (HUFH). Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein, Inc., presented the Mount Kisco, New York-based humanitarian organization with the medal at the Company’s national medical sales meeting in Dallas last week.

The finalists were selected by an independent panel of judges for the Henry Schein Cares Medal from a field of three finalists, which also included the Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation of Alhambra, California and Smile Rescue Fund for Kids, Inc. of Setauket, New York. As the winner, HUFH will receive $15,000 in cash from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, Inc. to support its work. In addition, each finalist will receive $10,000 worth of product from Henry Schein, Inc.

Click to read more

Dunia recovering from his first surgery

Thanks to the surgical skills of Dr.Dagum and Dr.Bui, Dunia has completed the first in a series of complex micro surgeries to restore his upper and lower lips.

I was able to stay with Dunia during the entire procedure as I watched and sometimes assisted in the operating room.  I was totally amazed by the skill and dedication of the entire Stony Brook Children’s hospital team.  They worked diligently and meticulously as a well coordinated unit.

His next surgery will be planned in the next few months and I’ll keep you informed with the details.  On behalf of Dunia, I want to thank all the volunteers that are scheduled to stay with Dunia during his hospital stay as well as everyone that is taken an interest in helping this unfortunate child.  Stony Brook Children’s Hospital– you are awesome.

Interested in getting involved in our not for profit charity and making a difference?  Contact Jennifer, our Executive Director -jennifer@smilerescuefund.org

Dr.Leon Klempner

Dunia’s First Surgery – Jan.11, 2016 – Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

I’m happy to announce that Dunia will undergo his first surgical procedure at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital on January 11th.  Due to his extensive injuries and subsequent scarring, Dunia will need multiple surgeries.  On January 11th, a team of doctors and nurses lead by Dr. Alexander Dagum, Chairman, Department of Plastic Surgery, will operate to graft tissue necessary for future surgeries. This complex challenging surgery could take all day.  The ultimate goal is an attempt to recreate new functional upper and lower lips for Dunia.

As most of you know, Dunia Sibomana and Andre Bauma were welcomed into the home of Jennifer Crean and her three children: Collin, Eian, and Grace.  Andre has since returned home to his two families, his wife and kids, and his orphaned gorillas.

Staying with Jenn full time has brought Dunia a unique opportunity: to attend the Pines elementary school in Hauppauge. As of this writing, Dunia has happily settled into the school-day routine.  Even better, one of Dunia’s classroom teachers is Mrs. Tamara West whose husband, Mr. Michael West, is the Director of Food Services at Stony Brook Hospital.  With Michael’s help we were able to bring Dunia and Andre to the hospital for a short tour prior to Andre’s return to the DRC on December 21st.

Something to remember is that Dunia is a native Swahili speaker. He understands and can say some words in French (lessons are taught in French in school in the DRC), and can also understand and speak the language of Rwanda, where his father is from, but came here not knowing any English. Andre has been Dunia’s interpreter.

In December, my wife Laurie and I brought Dunia and Andre to Stony Brook Hospital where we were met by quite a few people who will be involved directly and indirectly in Dunia’s care. Among them were Michael and Tamara West, Dr. William Arens, a recently retired professor of Anthropology at SBU, who came with his wife Diane, and Ms. Mariam Isack, a colleague of Dr. Arens who works in the International Academics Program at SBU. Bill and Diane Arens and Mariam Isack all speak Swahili and were there to offer support in any way they could.

After our initial meeting in the hospital lobby, we were escorted up to the Pediatric unit of the hospital where Dunia met Mr. Michael Attard, a Child Life Specialist. Michael showed us the pediatric “safe room” explaining that the room’s toys and activities can be enjoyed by the unit’s hospitalized children without the interruption and stress of any medical treatments. We also met some of the unit’s nursing and auxiliary staff.

It was a special morning for all involved and we thank everyone for their kindness and generosity (Dunia was showered with attention and gifts).

I know many of you would like to visit Dunia in the hospital.  As of now we do not know how long he will be in the operating room, how long he will be in recovery, and how long his hospital stay will be.  We know that many of you would like to be involved but we do not want to overwhelm him with visitors this first time around.  We do have volunteers that will be staying with him overnight so he will not be alone.  We will keep you posted.

In the picture above, from left to right: William Arens, Mariam Isack, Laurie Klempner, Michael Attard, Michael West, Leon Klempner, Tamara West, and Diane Arens. Dunia and Andre are in front.

As always, we welcome your comments.

Times Beacon Record Newsmedia Article about SRFK

Leon Klempner poses with Dunia Sibomana in front of the Christmas tree.

Leon Klempner poses with Dunia Sibomana in front of the Christmas tree.

 

TBR_logo_2015_web

The Times Beacon Record wrote an article highlighting the Smile Rescue Fund for Kids and our newest beneficiary, Dunia Sibomana. Check it out here: http://tbrnewsmedia.com/long-island-group-rescues-little-boys-smile/

Volunteers Needed

Dear Smile Rescue Fund Friends and Family,

Dunia (we had formerly been referring to him as Erick) arrived at JFK last week and has been settling in with his host family, the Creans, nicely. He’s an adorable little boy with a lot of spirit despite his circumstances and condition: he’s 8 years old, and weighs a mere 46 pounds, and is only 46 inches tall. And, as you know, he was maimed by a chimpanzee, which left him without lips, and with severe facial scarring.

While he undergoes treatment at Stony Brook over the coming months, we hope to provide him with new experiences, keep his spirits up, introduce him to new people and from a practical standpoint, support his host families.

That’s where you come in. In the short term, we’re looking for volunteers to take Dunia:

  • Tuesday or Thursday evening from 4:30-8:00pm for dinner
  • A weekend day
  • An entire weekend
  • For hospital stays during the day and overnight (dates TBA)
  • To and from doctor’s appointments
  • And work with him as a mother’s helper during the weekend (good for kids that need community service hours)

After the New Year, we’re looking for people to take him Monday through Friday from 7:15am- 4:30pm and are seeking additional families interested in hosting.

If you can help at all, please contact Jennifer Crean directly at Jennifer@smilerescuefund.org.

Many thanks,

Leon

Erick is arriving on November 21st

Dear Smile Rescue Fund Friends,

We have great news: Erick will be arriving on November 21st to begin his treatment journey. A reminder that Erick (8 years old) was attacked by a chimpanzee in his home country, The Republic of the Congo. Though he (miraculously) survived, his face was left extremely disfigured. Read the entire story here. He will be treated at Stony Brook Hospital to reconstruct his face so he can eat properly again (he weighs only 40 pounds now) and regain some semblance of normalcy in his life.

We have arrangements for accommodations for Erick and his companion, but need your help with:
-weekend hosting
-transportation to/from the hospital, doctor’s appointments and excursions
-offsetting the cost of food and incidentals

If you can lend a hand, please email amykepstein@gmail.com. For donations, please visit our website and click on the “donate now” link: www.smilerescuefund.org.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Leon & the SRFK team

Boy from Congo Attacked by Chimpanzee – SRFK will Help

–Smile Rescue Fund for Kids is Sponsoring Another Child–

Erick is a young boy who lives in The Republic of the Congo.  He was attacked by a chimpanzee and though he miraculously survived, his face was left extremely disfigured.  He lost both his upper and lower lips and has extensive scarring along the right side of his face.  This has left him with oral incompetence (inability to close his mouth) making it extremely difficult for him to eat or drink.  At present he is seriously malnourished, weighing only 42 pounds.

To make matters worse, he has been abandoned by his family.

He was found by some health care volunteers and referred to Smile Rescue Fund for Kids for help.  We plan on bringing him to Stony Brook University Hospital for the necessary reconstructive plastic surgery Erickh needs to be able to nourish himself.

We are looking for help with the following:

1) Fund raising volunteers -schools, youth clubs, religious organizations, etc.

2) Local families willing to provide temporary housing for Erick

3) Individuals willing to provide transportation to medical visits and hospital stays

4) Clothing donations

5) Tax deductible donations (click the “Donate” button or mail us a check)

Please share this post on social media, we need your help.

For additional information, contact me directly:

Dr. Leon Klempner

leon@smilerescuefund.org