Mending Faces was founded in 2010 by a passionate, highly experienced group of medical professionals and others to make a life-changing difference for children born with facial deformities in the Philippines. Since 2010 they have performed hundreds of life-changing surgeries!
The care is provided at no cost to the families. Healthcare professionals and outreach personnel donate their time and expertise. Volunteers fund 100% of their own travel and lodging expenses.
The surgery allows these children to lead productive lives in their community and culture. More than 200,000 children are born with cleft lip and cleft palate each year, and the condition threatens both the life and livelihood of the child.
Recent studies put the incidence of cleft lip and cleft palate at one in every 500 births in the Philippines. This is a higher incidence than the United States and other developed countries.
Children born with cleft lip/palate have an immediate disadvantage when it comes to feeding and getting proper nutrition. This results in not being able to suck as an infant, and/or properly hold food in the mouth which leads to malnutrition, and many other health problems related to poor nutrition. The birth defect can also contribute to difficulties with speaking properly. As you can imagine, this leads to self-esteem issues, and sadly, most children are kept out of school because of the shame related to the defect. Additionally, the hole in the roof of the mouth creates a continuous passage from the mouth into the nasal cavity. This often causes constant upper respiratory tract and sinus infections.
I created a dress that illuminates my personal experience with Mending Faces. The dress has before and after photos of only a few of the children who have benefited from this organization. The black color of the dress resembles surgical photography. The bright light in the photograph of this dress makes reference to how the surgical theatre is lit. During the surgery, it is imperative that the surgical area is illuminated. To capture the surgeries on film, the exposure must be brought down so that everything is darkened except the surgeon’s hands and the patient’s mouth. I placed a zipper on the front of the dress to illuminate the process of mending the center of these children’s faces. The rubber glove fingertips serving as the fringe in the dress represent the many hands of the doctors that heal. Furthermore, the dress has a long draping piece of cloth that wraps around the waist, similar to the way the children are wrapped during and after their surgeries.