Great Beginnings: The Cleft Bottle Project
Our Cleft Bottle Project is underway and off to a great start. Soft bottles designed for feeding children with cleft lip or palate are not available for purchase in China. In 2012 we worked with the Mead Johnson Company to have the bottles produced in China. We delivered those bottles to orphanages and healing homes and wherever we heard of a need.
Now we are going a step further and trying to get the bottles into the hands of the parents who have just delivered their cleft-affected child. We want to help new mothers gain confidence that their children can thrive and live a healthy life, despite the special need. Our ultimate hope is that more cleft-affected children will stay in families when their parents are given the means to feed their child and are pointed toward affordable surgery options.
In August our staff delivered a case of soft squeezable bottles, containing 96 bottles, and our Cleft Feeding and Care Information fliers (shown above) to three different hospitals. The hospitals we delivered to were in poor rural areas, and they happily accepted them. The Cleft Feeding and Care Information flier includes breast and bottle feeding information, instructions on how to position a child when using the bottles, cleaning and care information, and contact information for charitable organizations that can provide surgery if needed.
The maternity hospital in Shantou, Guangdong Province has already given out most of their 96 bottles and has requested more. The Li Ka Shing Foundation, which does education and healthcare philanthropic work, partnered with us to get the bottles into the right hands at this hospital. There are so many babies born with cleft every day at this hospital that the bottles are very needed.
The last two cases from our previous order were delivered to two maternity hospitals in Anhui Province where our staff felt they were most needed. The hospital in Lixin, Anhui, said they were thankful for the donation and that the bottles are very helpful when feeding a child with cleft.
We have placed an order for 2,000 more bottles to be manufactured. Included with each bottle will be two extra nipples. A donation of only $3 will provide a family with the necessary bottle for their child’s health and survival.
Joy’s cleft lip was repaired during the Cleft Exchange last April and her family was happy with the results. Joy and her family are great examples of what can happen when a family receives the support and information they need.
Out of respect for every family’s privacy, we are not asking for photos or follow up. This project is focused on providing information and support to new families facing a difficult time as they adjust to providing for a child with a special need. The response from the hospitals has been very encouraging, and they are happy to report to us the number of bottles they distribute as well as how they feel the program is being received by the families.
We give our sincerest thanks to all who have partnered with us on this exciting project!