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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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February 2021: Covid-19 situation update 

Bangladesh like all countries has suffered severely from Covid-19. As of January 28th 2021, the country has reported 533,444 Covid infections with a death toll of 8,072. The better news is that the second wave affect from Covid-19 in Bangladesh was thankfully not as severe as in some other Asian and European countries. The lockdown and suspension of surgeries back in March meant that families with Cleft suffering babies were under extreme stress and worry. Our Cleft Bangladesh surgeons, despite personal risk and limitations from all the related pandemic complexities determined to return to performing urgent surgeries at the earliest possible date, this occurred in early August.  During this time, our highest priority was maintaining COVID-safe surgical environment to ensure highest safety of our patients and their families visiting the hospital. Since reactivating the program in August, we have as Cleft Bangladesh completed over 900 life-changing surgeries. These many families are so appreciative of the work and attitude of the surgeons and their generous commitment to serve and support their cleft suffering babies/children.

Our staff in Bangladeshi again acknowledge the efforts of our surgeons during the initial lockdowns, to actively donate their time and resources to assist the wider Bangladesh community survive through this most difficult of times. As happens in such crises the toll so often hits the poor, the sudden unemployed, the sick and the vulnerable. We say a big ‘well done and thank you’ to our surgeons and their supportive teams.

It is the children we work for and their families that are among the poorest of the poor. The pandemic is particularly hard on those who had been fighting to survive even before Covid-19. Thanks to our surgeons for the commitment to perform as many surgeries as possible, and help to reduce the backloge resulting from the earlier lockdown.


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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