Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak

Cleft Lip/Palate Operations, Bali & Lombok


Cleft Lip/Palate is a congenital deformity, which in the worst cases affects and the upper lip, nose, upper jaw and palate. The Palate is the soft tissue on the roof of the mouth. When this is missing the mouth is connected directly to the nose, which makes eating and drinking difficult and normal speech impossible.

More mild cases only affect the lip or palate.

Babies born with this deformity are often from very poor areas, where close inter-family marriages have occurred for generations, and pregnant women are subject to untreated infections. The best results are achieved by children having treatment in their first year, and in the most severe cases up to five operations are necessary – the last at age 18 or so when facial bone growth has stopped.

Children, with this affliction left untreated, grow up to ridicule from their peers and low self-esteem. They don’t succeed in school, have terrible speech problems, are unable to find spouses and are shutout of the job market.

In short, they are social outcasts.


Our current program is centered on a previously remote and poverty stricken area in Bali. Since 2007, the program has been run in conjunction with the Smile Foundation of Bali (Yayasan Senyum Bali) whom we support with the funding for the foundation to continue its mission; bringing health care to people with cleft and craniofacial disabilities.

We work with the Smile Foundation as they use the services of Bali’s top Plastic Surgeons. Moreover, the foundation medical advisor, Professor David David from Australian Cranio Facial Unit in Adelaide, who annually visits Bali to share knowledge with the local doctors and further improve local technique.

Most of these children come from poor family and are unable to receive basic education. This in turn means they are unable to find good jobs and provide for themselves and/or their families. 

With these inexpensive, but life-changing operations, they have the chance to escape the poverty trap imposed on all the generations before them. Their “new” appearance will enable them to have a normal life and receive an education without feelings that they are social outcasts.


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