Update: Saline and African Project: Next Meeting – Oct 25th

Saline092013Here is a quick progress update on Saline and the African Project to bring clean water, solar lighting and training for the challenged children in the village.

1) Saline has been undergoing a series of fluid injections in order to expand her skin in anticipation of her next surgery which has been scheduled for Monday, September 16.  Dr. Alex Dagum will perform an extensive series of procedures to close her facial defect with two grafts as well as create a nose using a rib graft.  The surgery will take place at Stony Book Hospital and take approximately 4-5 hours.   There will be two additional surgeries before she can return home.

2) Duncan has been excused from his teaching responsibilities by the Kenyan government for a three month period of time in order to accompany Saline.  In order to keep his job, he will have to return home at the end of September or early October. Unfortunately, due to the number of surgeries and the anticipated healing time, Dr. Dagum does not feel that Saline can return home until sometime in November.  This creates three dilemmas.  First, in order to legally operate on Saline, we need a local guardian.  Second, we need someone to accompany Saline back to Nairobi and the adult that travels with her may need to be her guardian.  Finally, we need a host family that is willing to supervise her recovery.  Volunteers and suggestions are welcome.

3) I would like to schedule a meeting to discuss our findings before Duncan returns home.  Save the date: Friday October 25, 7:00 pm, Emma Clark Library. I realize that everyone may not be available, however it is important to have representation from each committee so we can move forward.

Once again, your participation is greatly appreciated.

Community Meeting – Setauket Library – Join Us

SalineLisa

Three Village meets God Ong’eche Village

Helping an African Community Improve Health and Education

 Mr. Duncan Owange, a respected teacher from a remote Kenyan village, is partnering with local orthodontist and philanthropist Dr. Leon Klempner to lead a discussion about creating a partnership to improve health and education in his village.  Mr. Owange is on Long Island to accompany Saline, a 12-year-old girl undergoing facial reconstructive surgery at Stony Brook Hospital, sponsored by the non-profit Smile Rescue Fund for Kids.

Join them, along with Dr. Jonathan Epstein, global health and infectious disease expert at EcoHealth Alliance, to help create a sustainable action plan for improving the lives of children in God Ong’eche, Kenya.

 August 16, 2013 at 7:00pm

Emma S. Clark Library – Community Room

Everyone is welcome. Email drleonk@gmail.com for more information.

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Getting to Know Saline and Duncan

salineduncanSaline and Duncan have been here for about a month now and I know that many of you would like to know more about them.  Saline is a very sweet loving child who has been neglected most of her life.  Being born with a facial deformity in a small village has created many challenges for her.  As you would expect, her self-esteem is very poor and she rarely gives you direct eye contact.  Her father passed away last year and I’m told her mother is overwhelmed.  I’ve spent many hours talking with Duncan, her teacher, advocate and all-around great caring man, about life in the villages of Africa.  It was hard for me to believe that so many people are living without the basic necessities of life such as clean water or electricity.  They bathe and drink from a nearby river stream – not the most ideal sanitary conditions.  Much of the little money that most families earn at the market is spent on kerosene for occasional evening lighting.  Most children do not attend school regularly as they are needed for household chores such as gathering firewood for cooking, etc.  For those that do attend, the schools do not have enough teachers or books for all children. The children with physical or mental challenges are essentially neglected.

Duncan is married with five young children of his own.  He is well educated and very well spoken and lives in a village adjacent to Saline’s.  He met Saline in the classroom about five years ago and has become her surrogate father, friend and medical advocate.  It was through his efforts to bring Saline to the local Smile Train screening that I was first contacted.  He has taken time away from his family to bring her to all of her local hospital visits and embassy interviews.  He has become her legal guardian in order to accompany her on her journey here. None of this would ever be happening without Duncan.  Neither of them has ever been on an airplane or even in a private car before.

Despite all the challenges she faces, Saline likes to hold hands and is just a 12 year-old kid. We are not sure of her real age because she has no birth certificate. She likes to play outside and definitely has a good sense of humor.  Earlier this week Duncan, Saline and I took a long walk along the Port Jefferson harbor.  As we walked I looked over at Saline, gave her a light thump on the shoulder and smiled.  She looked up momentarily and then looked down and kept walking.  About 30 seconds later, I got a not-so-light thump on my shoulder as she looked up and smiled.  One step at a time!

www.smilerescuefund.com

Smile Rescue Fund for Kids Bringing Saline From Kenya To Stony Brook

I’m happy to say that the Kenyan government has granted Saline a medical visa and passport to come to here for surgery.  The Smile Rescue Fund for Kids supplied all financial records and legal documents necessary to the Kenyan consulate.   This was our last major obstacle.  I am in the process of buying airline tickets for Saline and her adult tutor, Duncan.  We owe a lot of gratitude to Esther, our Kenyan contact, for helping our cause.

This has not been an easy road for Saline.  As you may know, last winter we raised enough money to fund a plastic surgery team in Nairobi to perform the procedure.  Unfortunately, the surgery was not successful.  This was a devastating disappointment for Saline, her family and all of her supporters back here at home.  After that, the Smile Rescue Fund did not give up on Saline but renewed its efforts to bring her here.   We anticipate a series of complex surgeries over the course of three to six months with no guarantee of success.  However, we are very optimistic and very grateful to Dr. Dagum, his colleagues and Stony Brook University Hospital for donating their services to help Saline.  This will be her best opportunity for a successful result.  See article in Times Beacon Record Newspaper.

I am also very grateful to all of our wonderful supporters and fundraisers for their efforts in making Saline’s dream of living a normal life a possibility.

Based on Dr. Dagum’s and the hospital’s schedule, arrangements are being made to bring Saline and Duncan here at the end of May.

At this time, we are looking for volunteers to house Saline and Duncan for part, or all, of their stay.

Please forward this story to your facebook friends.  Hopefully with your help we will be able to help more children like Saline.  Without us, they have no hope.

Leon

An Update on Saline……

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I received received an email from my contact in Kenya last week.  Our efforts to bring Saline to the U.S. for surgery have been blocked by her inability to get a visa and passport due to lack of a birth certificate.  For the past year, we have been appealing and diligently looking for a legal diplomatic workaround.  Finally, on January 9th, Saline will be granted an interview for a visa.  Arrangements have been made to transport Saline and her teacher Duncan to Nairobi for the appointment.
As the year comes to a close, on behalf of Saline, I want to thank all of our SRFK loyal friends and supporters.  Your support, contributions and fundraising efforts are well appreciated.   Once we get proper credentials, I will buy airline tickets for Saline and Duncan.  Due to the severity of her facial deformity, Dr. Alex Dagum and his medical team anticipate preforming a series of necessary surgeries and will require her staying here for approximately 6 months.
In the meantime, please forward this email to your friends and online contacts.  Tax deductible donations can easily be made via Paypal on our website.  www.smilerescuefund.org
I remain cautiously optimistic and hope to bring you good news soon.
Leon
Founder, Smile Rescue Fund for Kids, Inc.

$8000.00 Raised by Medical and Dental Residents in NYC Turtle Bay Happy Hour Fundraiser

May 17th was a big day for Saline, a 12 year old girl living in the Kenya.  She will benefit from the money raised which will help fund her remaining surgeries.  The fundraiser was so successful that we will begin looking for another child to help.

Congratulations and credit goes to the event committee organized by Drs. Melanie Baum and Isaac Bar.

The follow are responsible for the successful fundraiser:

Melanie Baum

Isaac Bar

Micah Berman

Annie Brandenburg

Kevin Small

David Rothman

Elysa Kahan

Samantha Safier

Jodi Klempner

If anyone is interested in joining this great cause, please contact me directly:

Dr. Leon Klempner, Founder, The Smile Rescue Fund for Kids

leon@smilerescuefund.org  – Join us on Facebook for follow ups and new upcoming events!

Heather Raises $900. To Help Saline

Who said that one person can’t make a difference?   Obviously, Heather never got the memo.  This remarkable 10 year old girl decided she was going to help raise money to help another young girl that was not as fortunate.  Heather sold tee shirts, and obtain donations from her church, friends, neighbors and anyone else willing to help.  She emailed me and announced her lofty goal of $500.  Well, this week she came into my office and presented me with a check for almost $900.00.  On behalf of Saline, a great big “thanks you”.  I am amazed, what do you think?

NYC Fundraiser Cleft Charity

Please join us on May 17th for our next Smile Resuce Fundraiser in NYC!

Drs. Melanie Baum and Isaac bar have a great evening planned- all for a great cause.

For details:

http://www.facebook.com/events/242972265799259/

NYC Fundraiser for Saline – Huge Success

We raised over $1200.00 at Bar 29 on 3rd Avenue and 29th Street on Sunday December 11th.  We actioned off our football signed by “Boomer”, 50-50 raffle and sold Smile Rescue Fund tee shirts (thanks Jenn).

A big thank you to all attending and a special shout out to our organizers. Melissa and Tamir Young, Lisa and Jodi Klempner, Amy and Jon Epstein and Jennifer Crean.

“Boomer” Donates a Signed Football for Saline

Boomer Esiason (former Terp QB) has signed a football to help raise money for Saline!  Come on down to the Smile Rescue Fund for Kids fundraiser this Sunday and you may go home with it!

Details:http://www.facebook.com/events/265185553533631/

Smile Rescue Fund for Kids