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Empower

“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.” Elizabeth Edwards

Empowerment is one of the ways Cleft Friends closes the gap between medical professionals and the emotions a new parent is feeling; whose child is affected by cleft lip and/or palate. We know that each cleft lip and palate diagnosis is different and that each bring with them their own challenges, but we also know that most parents experience similar emotions and we can all use a little more support when things feel like they’re falling apart. Cleft Friends would like to be part of that support for you.

Cleft Friends empowers parents by providing:

  • One-on-one Support
  • Cleft Moms SA – Facebook Group (Closed)
  • Regional Whatsapp Groups
  • Community Events
  • Training

One-on-one Support

Cleft Friends sees the importance of not just connecting moms with other moms but also connecting people who were born with a cleft lip and/or palate with new moms. We are able to find strength when we know that we were not alone. We have created a community of like-minded people who have gone through the phases we have identified as being important in the cleft journey* and can walk the journey with others and encourage them through each step. When we refer to the cleft journey* we mean everything relating to your baby’s cleft lip and palate experience from the time they are born to their last operation. We found that it helps to view the journey in stages. Simply put, these stages are Survival phase, Emotional phase and Moving Forward phase

  • Survival phase: When a mom just finds out her baby has a cleft lip and/or palate either through a foetal anomaly scan or at birth. This can be traumatic.
  • Emotional phase: Pre and post-op support. Empowering parents to ask medical professionals good questions that relate to their child’s specific diagnosis.
  • Moving Forward phase: There is usually a big time lapse between a child’s cleft lip and/or palate surgery(s) and a bone graft and/ or further orthodontic surgeries, if necessary. This phase tackles empowering parents to equip their child to cope with “difference” and to build their confidence and self esteem and how to deal with the surgeries.

One-on-one support can help you feel encouraged and supported as well as empower you to ask your team of medical professionals the relevant questions; questions that we wish we had been empowered to ask when our baby was born. To have support mom who truly knows what you are going through visit you in hospital when your cleft affected baby is born and when he/she has their operation(s). It’s important for parents and caregivers to inform us of these dates.

Cleft Moms SA - Facebook Group (Closed)

This is a place for you to interact with the Cleft Friends community, share stories, photos and ask for advice on any aspect of cleft. This is a closed group so sharing is safe and only the other moms in the group get to see your posts. To join our growing community on Facebook (Cleft Moms SA) you need to complete the Cleft Friends Membership Form. Our regional support moms are admins on this group and can add you as soon as they have a copy of your membership form. 

This group is so valuable as a means of support for other moms and dads and we are grateful for its existence. We are all aware our focus in this group is emotional support but sometimes we may encounter someone who has a greater need such as nappies or formula or transport money. We want to suggest a way to be helpful in this instance. You do not have to provide any physical things to another mom or dad. If you find yourself in a situation such as this please refer them to Cleft Friends directly info@cleftfriends.co.za so that we can find a way to be most helpful that is in line with what Cleft Friends is able to provide. 

Here’s the link to the group:
www.facebook.com/groups/1500422516849142

Regional Whatsapp Groups

We have seen a tremendous amount of support and care on the Cleft Friends Whatsapp groups and gladly welcome you to request to join a group in your area. To join our growing community on Whatsapp you need to complete the Cleft Friends Membership Form. Our regional support moms are admins on these groups and can add you as soon as they have a copy of your membership form. We have 9 regional Whatsapp groups and will continue to grow as support moms are trained country-wide.

  1. Gauteng 1 (English & Afrikaans)
  2. Gauteng 2 (English & Zulu)
  3. Free State (English)
  4. Eastern Cape 1 (English & Afrikaans)
  5. Eastern Cape 2 (English & Xhosa)
  6. Mpumalanga (English)
  7. Kwa-Zulu Natal (English)
  8. Western Cape (English)
  9. National – Anyone who was born with a cleft (English)

Parents often join these groups for a short period of time when they need the support most and are welcome to stay as long as they like, and in turn are an encouragement to other new moms when they join the conversation.

Send a Whatsapp to 0823931206 to be added to a group in your area.

Community Events

We changed the Cleft Friends Breakfast from a social gathering to something similar to a symposium where medical professionals and parents with children affected by clefts could engage and share their stories.  This created a platform that empowered and educated parents about the cleft journey.

Cleft Friends partnered with the South African Speech Hearing Language Association (SASHLA) for this year’s breakfasts.

SASLHA represents speech language therapists and/or audiologists SLT/A in South Africa and increasingly in Africa as a whole.  They support SLT/A in their professional development, develop and set guidelines in terms of best practice. 

Their aim is also to promote the role of SLT/A to the general public. Creating public awareness and educating the public regarding communication difficulties.

SASHLA provided local speech therapists to talk about the importance of speech therapy in the cleft journey. A local Cleft Friends support mom shared her journey of courage and strength. These were completely free to anyone directly affected by cleft lip and palate in South Africa. See below for photos from these events. 

Johannesburg

1 July 2017
Guest Speaker (SASHLA) Georgia Jammine
Guest Speaker (Cleft Friends) Karen Kriek
Venue: African Pride, Melrose Arch Hotel

CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01
CFB - Johannesburg - 2017-07-01

Witbank

8 July 2017
Guest Speaker (SASHLA) Erika Bostock
Guest Speaker (Cleft Friends) Helena Cullis
Venue: Boerelicious

CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08
CFB - Witbank - 2017-07-08

Pretoria

15 July 2017
Guest Speaker (SASHLA) Roxanne Milan
Guest Speaker (Cleft Friends) Sylvia Mchunu
Venue: Le Shades

CFB - Pretoria - 2017-07-15
CFB - Pretoria - 2017-07-15
CFB - Pretoria - 2017-07-15
CFB - Pretoria - 2017-07-15
CFB - Pretoria - 2017-07-15

Durban

26 August 2017
Guest Speaker (SASHLA) Saira Banu Karim
Guest Speaker (Cleft Friends) Megan Pennefather & Julie Macquet-Maurel
Venue: 18 Pioneer Road

CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26
CFB - Durban - 2017-08-26

Bloemfontein

9 September 2017
Guest Speaker (SASHLA) Lefty Kambanis
Guest Speaker (Cleft Friends) Helena Cullis
Venue: Iewers Nice at Towers

CFB - Bloem - 2017-09-09
CFB - Bloem - 2017-09-09
CFB - Bloem - 2017-09-09
CFB - Bloem - 2017-09-09
CFB - Bloem - 2017-09-09
CFB - Bloem - 2017-09-09
CFB - Bloem - 2017-09-09

Port Elizabeth

30 September 2017
Guest Speaker (SASHLA) Almarie Dorfling
Guest Speaker (Cleft Friends) Helena Cullis
Venue: Ibhayi Town Lodge

CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30
CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30
CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30
CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30
CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30
CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30
CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30
CFB - Port Elizabeth - 2017-09-30

Cape Town

11 November 2017
Guest Speaker (SASHLA) Roslyn Lentin
Guest Speaker (Cleft Friends) Monique Meyer
Venue: Workshop 17, The Watershed

CFB - Cape Town - 2017-11-11
CFB - Cape Town - 2017-11-11
CFB - Cape Town - 2017-11-11
CFB - Cape Town - 2017-11-11
CFB - Cape Town - 2017-11-11
CFB - Cape Town - 2017-11-11
CFB - Cape Town - 2017-11-11

Cleft Friends High Tea – 12 August 2017

Cleft Friends has hosted a High Tea in Port Elizabeth since 2013. This event has gathered both the public and cleft community to create awareness about cleft lip and palate. See below for photos from the 2017 Cleft Friends High Tea at the Tramways Building in Port Elizabeth.

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Training

Training

We have worked on this project for many years and now have 20 trained support moms around the country, who want to give back by supporting others through their cleft journey. Our support moms have been trained by a clinical psychologist in basic counselling skills about loss and grieving, ethical responsibilities and referrals, self-care and to respect hospital protocol. 

On Women’s Day, 9 August 2017 we trained 3 new support moms in the Western Cape, Monique Meyer, Megan Sampson and Taryn Dickenson. Welcome to the team ladies!

* The cleft journey is a term that Cleft Friends uses to describe everything relating to your baby’s cleft lip and palate experience from the time they are born to their last operation. This can include the following medical professionals Paediatrician,  Specialist “Feeding” Nurse or Lactation Consultant, Speech and Language Therapist, Plastic Surgeon, Audiologist, Otologist; ENT Surgeon, Paediatric Dentist, Orthodontist, Maxillo-Facial Surgeon, Clinical Geneticist, Psychologist – Counsellor.

Contact Details

Email: info@cleftfriends.co.za
Phone: (082) 393 1206

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