I would have loved to see the sweet beginning of Saline’s much anticipated smile which also marks the end of the journey we have traveled for the last four years on a very rough and painful road,i have to leave since it is unavoidable . Out of nothing and without any ray of hope,we started and stumbled.Little did we know that at some point God would bond us with selfless,loving and generous people who have now seen us this far.
There was a meeting of the electricity committee on 9/26/13. The goal is to purchase lighting for some of the children’s homes so that they can finish their schoolwork in the evening without using kerosene, which is both dangerous and expensive. The solar battery life is about five years. Several committee members had information about different lights available, but of special interest is one company which is located in Nairobi. This company would deliver the lights to the village. The cost will be between $10 and $13 for each light. Several different lights will be purchased before the next meeting so convenience, cost and brightness can be compared.
The first goal will be between 25 and 50d lights depending on cost. Duncan will determine how the lights are distributed. He may take 10 of 50 and donate them to families that have the most need. Perhaps he will charge a $5 fee for the other lights so the monies can be used to purchase more lights.
Next meeting October 25th at the Emma Clarke Library – purchased lights will be compared at that time. Duncan will attend.
How is Saline doing? This is a common question asked by many of us. Not just from a medical perspective, but psychologically as well. I asked Duncan to provide his observations. I’m happy to report the following:
“It is a great delight that Saline’s confidence and self-esteem is already evident through her more smiles, more giggles and uncontrolled desire to admire herself in the mirror due to the surgeries so far accomplished – closing her once wide deformed palate and face. She tells me to take her pictures and send to her mother, it is irresistible. What a looming great happiness, more and wider smiles once done! Thanking her friends and generous contributors all the way.” – Duncan
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Saline 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!
Dr. Leon Klempner
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