An Update on Dunia & Saline

Dunia is a true inspiration.

After winning the New York State Wrestling Championship as an eighth grader in 2022, Dunia’s incredible journey continued as he recently placed 3rd in the tournament. He even was featured on ESPN. Dunia’s unwavering dedication to his craft and his determination to pursue his dreams are truly inspiring. We are so proud of his hard work and achievements. He is a true champion and inspiration!

Saline continues to thrive..

In 2021, Saline returned to Kenya and decided to pursue a vocational education at X-elle Beauty College. With the support of our generous SRFK donors, she was able to cover all of her tuition and living expenses, allowing her to focus on her studies. Since then, Saline successfully completed her course in beauty therapy and thrives in her new field. Her ultimate goal is to rent a house and build a successful career doing what she loves. 

Donate to the Cause 

We would like to thank all of the SRFK volunteers for their continued emotional and financial support. None of this would happen without you!

Please consider donating $10 to sponsor a child in our LEAP program, an initiative to offer hot school lunches to 100 children in Africa. Click to donate:

Farewell Saline

I have mixed emotions as I tell you that Saline will be returning home to Kenya on May 2, 2021.

On the one hand, I’m so happy to have had an opportunity, as many of you have had, to play a role in her development from a young self-conscious child to a confident young woman. On the other hand, I’m sad that she is going away. I know I speak for many of you when I say that she has touched the lives of those who have gotten to know her.

It is somewhat comforting to know that she will be attending a vocational school to learn a trade and all tuition and living expenses will be paid through the generosity of our SRFK donors. I cannot say enough about the generosity of the entire Tame family. They have not only opened up their home to Saline but have, more importantly, opened up their hearts. I would be remiss if I did not mention Duncan Owange, Saline’s teacher and advocate, who has worked tirelessly since Saline was young, to help her achieve a better life. In addition, my hat comes off to Dr. Alex Dagum, who devoted so many hours in the operating room, to transform Saline’s life. She now has a chance at a more normal life and I am certain that everyone who knows her, wishes her the best.

We have started a dedicated fund for Saline. Any donations appreciated. See Paypal button on the right or click here to donate.

The Smile Rescue LEAP Program: Lunch for Educational Achievement Program

The Smile Rescue Fund brings children from other countries for life saving craniofacial surgeries. The environments that the recipients come here from are at least partially if not directly responsible for the defect or injury that we are correcting.  When a child has surgery and is ready to go back home, as a foundation, we face the reality that we are sending them back to that same tough environment.

Thanks to the tremendous support we have by our donors we have been able to make positive changes in their home countries. In the past we have provided methods to collect rain water in Kenya (since clean water is scarce).  We have provided solar lighting to cut down on the expense of kerosene lamps.  We have covered the start up costs for making uniforms so that children who cannot afford them, can attend school.  We have provided wheel chairs for many kids and adults who could not otherwise fully participate in what life offers them.  We have also had a generous donor family provide a boarding school education to our first recipient, so that she could get the education she deserved. 

One of the more difficult issues facing our friends in Kenya is the lack of nourishment for the kids there in school. According to Owange Duncan, the Smile Rescue LEAP Program targets orphans and other vulnerable learners who:

“Hardly receive lunch at home so they choose to remain at school without a meal throughout the school day. Go back home and participate in preparing the lunch and other domestic chores making them to miss first lessons in the afternoon nearly everyday and also get back to school too tired to concentrate. They’re always absent from to school due to various challenges associated with extreme poverty. Their academic achievements have, therefore, been so low over the years. A national statistical survey conducted some years back established the school as one in a very poor neighborhood and some pupils benefitted from sanitary towels & shoes among others. The program, therefore, seeks to offer lunch for education” – Owange Duncan

Since a small donation goes a long way in their country, the SRFK have calculated that we can feed a child for a month for $10 and are looking for corporate donors to sponsor a child.  This equates to $120 per year; currently we have a goal of covering 100 children. Please consider pledging a recurring $10 per month to sponsor a child. Click here:

**Be sure to select “Make this a monthly donation”

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!


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


Stony Brook Dental School Bake Sale


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

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.



The Times Beacon Record wrote an article highlighting the Smile Rescue Fund for Kids and our newest beneficiary, Dunia Sibomana. Check it out here: