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Operation Cleft has changed the lives of many underprivileged children in Bangladesh since its inception in 2005. By providing these children with the opportunity to receive life-altering, free cleft lip and cleft palate repair surgery they need for a brighter future and the Gift of a Smile for Life.



Operation Cleft Australia is an international humanitarian project of the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central, Victoria.  Operation Cleft Australia’s mission is to provide 1500 free, cleft repair surgeries each year to underprivileged children in Bangladesh– enabling them to live normal and meaningful lives and contribute to building their nation.



With the generous support of our team of Bangladeshi surgeons and the hospitals at which they operate, Operation Cleft can keep the cost of cleft repair surgery to the minimum of AUD$350 per operation. For just $30 a month for one year – less than $1.50 a day – you too can give an underprivileged child in Bangladesh the “Gift of a Smile for Life.”

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– May 2020: Corona situation update –

Covid -19 impacts Bangladesh severely.

Bangladesh continues to see an increasing number of people infected with the Corona virus. As of late May, more than 500 deaths have been reported with the number of infections exceeding 37,000.

Our Partner reporting from Bangladesh on what all this means for the surgical program on the ground and writes; The Coronavirus pandemic of course also impacts our work. Still, cleft children continue to be born and need our help. We are working to keep up as many services as possible, and we are working to help by for example buying and delivering protective equipment to our surgeons. We will resume our full normal work as soon as the situation allows and hope to speed up our work so that the children that could not be operated on now due to the epidemic will still receive their treatment at a later date.

May 19, 2020: Surgeon Dr. Zaman organizes food aid in Bangladesh

Crises demand and promote creativity.

The best example of this is our longstanding partner, Dr. Zaman. In his hometown Dhaka, the surgeon started a private relief campaign, financed by donations from his international circle of friends and acquaintances.

The country has been in a total lockdown since March 26, and the number of cases is increasing daily. Countless people from all walks of life have suddenly become unemployed. This affects the poor particularly hard: they have no more money to support their families. To help these people, Dr. Zaman has sprung into action. In his garage, volunteers help pack food for the needy. This includes rice, lentils, eggs, onions, potatoes, and cooking oil. 1,200 families have already been able to receive this aid from Dr. Zaman! He intends to continue this work, since an improvement in the situation in Bangladesh is currently not foreseeable.

Corona Virus: the situation in Bangladesh

The children we work for and their families are among the poorest of the poor. The pandemic is particularly hard on those who had been fighting to survive even before Corona. Because of the lockdowns, they can no longer make a living. Living in confined spaces and under poor conditions, they are more or less inevitably exposed to the virus. We hope that the measures taken will work and prevent the virus from spreading too widely, which would have catastrophic consequences in Bangladesh.

Together we are working on solutions to this difficult situation, so that we can begin operating again as soon as possible. Our little patients need us even more than before now. Many cleft children suffer from malnutrition. Their immune systems are weak and an infection with the corona virus can thus be particularly dangerous for them. We want to continue to support these children and their families.

Our Surgeons are currently getting many calls from concerned parents who are very worried that their children will not be able to get their surgery because of Corona. We are of course working to ensure that we can resume our work as soon as at all possible and treat not only the patients newly born in the meantime, but also those whose surgery we’ve had to postpone due to the epidemic.


A simple solution to a serious problem

Operation Cleft Australia is committed to improving the lives of underprivileged children in Bangladesh, by providing free cleft lip and palate repair surgery to those born with this condition.

Many young families in Bangladesh live on or below the poverty line – less than $2 a day. They lead simple, village lives, where everything revolves around the extended family group. More than 5,000 babies are born with cleft lip and/or palate conditions each year in Bangladesh. These babies are often sickly and malnourished due to feeding problems..

If these cleft conditions are left untreated, these children will suffer both physically and emotionally, and they face a life of torment, poor health, isolation, and illiteracy. Frequently both children and their families are ostracised by their communities, and many family units break down due to the stress and peer pressure.

Sadly 12% of babies born with clefts and whose clefts are not repaired die before the age of five.

Since 2005, Operation Cleft Australia, an international humanitarian project of the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central, Victoria, has provided around 1000 free cleft repair surgeries annually to the underprivileged in Bangladesh. Our objective in going forward with this program is to:

  • Increase the number of surgeries we can provide annually
  • Increase the number of surgeons operating for us
  • Broaden the geographical spread of surgical camps across Bangladesh
  • Assist in the development of newly-established plastic surgery units in provincial cities
  • Encourage sustainability
  • Encourage the development of plastic surgery training programs across Bangladesh

With each cleft repair operation conducted in surgical camps throughout Bangladesh by top Bangladeshi plastic surgeons,
a child and his or her family now have the opportunity to lead a normal life, and the child has an opportunity to receive an education, build a social network and to reach his or her full potential as a contributing member of their community.

Operation Cleft Australia’s mission is to continue to provide these free, life-altering surgeries to those in Bangladesh most in need.


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