The Smile Across the Globe

Hello, I come from Africa.

In the Summer of 2014, we received a letter from the other side of the world. “Hello, my name is Kwabena, I am a craniofacial and plastic surgeon from a foundation in Africa.” Dr. Kwabena introduced himself as a seed medical practitioner whom received training from the NCF back in 2007. He was coming to Taiwan for a conference in October, and wanted to meet the current CEO of the NCF. We soon organized a meeting between Dr. Kwabena and our CEO Mrs. Rebecca Wang on the 4th of October. Assisting and Training seed medical practitioners is one of the NCF’s main objectives. However, ever since the NCF debuted its international medical training services, the vast majority of our global services have been based on the medical practitioners from South East Asia. Due to this, the NCF beamed with excitement from Dr. Kwabena’s expected arrival.

Dr. Kwabena had a thin and tall physique. Despite his young age, he emitted a fiery passion when discussing an action plan for cleft lip and palate patients in Ghana. Dr. Kwabena cited the rich knowledge he acquired from his training in Taiwan seven years ago, and his fascination with the NCF’s coordination with the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, as the reasons he came for advice in pushing for a greater plan to deal with those born with a cleft lip or palate in his home country. When he first returned to Ghana after his training, he immediately began planning the establishment of the GRAFT Foundation (Ghana Reconstruction of Anomaly and Trauma Fund). After 2 years of organization and groundwork, in 2009, GRAFT was founded, with Dr. Kwabena as both founder and CEO.

GRAFT launched with five surgeons, an anesthesiologist, and 20 nurses, in order to provide treatment for the poor and secluded patients all over West Africa. This frequently involved providing free surgery to those with a cleft lip or palate. Dr. Kwabena mentioned that there were only nine surgeons throughout all of Ghana, him being one of them. They were concentrated in two cities and three hospitals, indicating the lack of access Ghanaians had to medical professionals. Medical training, resources, and funding within Ghana are in severe short supply, which prompted Dr. Kwabena to pay us a visit, and seek help from the NCF. He hoped the NCF could assist in training more local doctors so patients in Ghana could seek appropriate medical treatment.

There are only 9 surgeons in Ghana. Dr. Williams (shown above) is one of the nine.

3 Years Later.

After 2014, the NCF formed much closer ties to Dr. Kwabena. After a series of bumps in the road, GRAFT was finally able to send two doctors to Taiwan for training, Dr. Williams (shown above) being one of them. Dr. Williams is also a surgeon - with a burning passion for his work, and a dazzling bright smile -he brought the lively spirit of Western Africa all the way to Taiwan. Dr. Williams humorously said to us “I’ve always wanted to be a soldier as a kid, I especially wanted to become the president’s personal bodyguard, it’s quite funny now that I think of it”

Rather than pursuing a life as a soldier, Dr. Williams realized that the true way to change another’s life was by being a doctor. His heart of compassion and love for helping others guided him towards being a doctor. “Many people choose to pursue higher education in England or the U.S., and try to stay there, because the moon is always rounder in a foreign country. Nevertheless, I chose to stay in Ghana. In this world, there is no other place like home. I believe the greatest impact I can have is by staying in my country, devoting myself to my fellow Ghanaians.”

Dr. Williams’ words were incredibly touching to all of us. He later sincerely shared that, in Ghana, going through medical school would frequently place a family under heavy economic strain if they were not well off, and he was incredibly grateful that the family he was born into allowed him to finish medical school without any trouble. His privilege from being born into such a family could’ve easily granted him the ability to leave the country right after finishing his medical education. Yet, he chose to stay, to pursue his destiny, to change the lives of others.

Dr. Williams(Left) and the Medical Supervisor of the CGMH Dr. Lun-Jou Lo(Right)

The Puzzle of Hope

Dr. Williams finished his training in Taiwan after 1 full year. After he returned to Ghana, he eagerly began to share with his peers all that he’s learned from the training. From knowledge on the subject of cleft lip or palate surgery, to techniques and skills needed for surgery, he shared it all enthusiastically with his colleagues, whom all reacted very positively to their newly shared knowledge. He was appreciative that he had the opportunity to be recommended to Taiwan for training, learning from the best with the newest and most advanced medical techniques from over the world. However, that was not the end of his training, as it was just the beginning. The NCF’s Seed Medical Practitioners Training is like a puzzle of hope. We are relentlessly flying doctors to Taiwan for training, creating a larger and larger puzzle over time. We believe, someday, this puzzle will be completed, and only you can join hands with us to formulate the complete picture.

Cleft lip and palate patients need 17 years of medical attention and care. Our “International Overseas Adoption” plan uses a long term “adoption” method, giving cleft lip and palate patients from overseas access to full time medical care like the patients in Taiwan, allowing them to reconstruct each and every of their vibrant smiles.

Now is the time for you to lend us a helping hand!

Understand more about the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation’s Cleft Lip and Palate International Services:

Help Provide Medical Attention for Overseas Patients and Help Fund Seed Medical Practitioner Training:

Mandarin Article:

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