February 2009, Hyderabad, India. EARTHSPEAK has been working in Hyderabad since late 2004. This trip united team member Andi Jobe from the United States with India team members, including Dr. Mukunda Reddy, Head of Plastic Surgery at the Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) and Ch Bhargavi, the newly hired Speech Pathologist on the Cleft Palate team at NIMS.
In October 2006 EARTHSPEAK began a program that sought to provide free surgery and related cleft palate team care to all children in need in the state of Andhra Pradesh in Southern India. Smile Train provided surgical funding.
The illness and subsequent passing of Dr. Richard Jobe resulted in a two-year absence from the site. That left the India program without the level of active participation that EARTHSPEAK had been providing. However, electronic communication was maintained, and Dr. Reddy and his team were able to maintain and even expand some areas that had already been established.
During this trip 7 patients presented for review. Of the 7, three were dismissed with speech within normal limits. Two of these children were from the nomadic Lambada tribe, and one of them improved enough to get into Class 1 at school last year. The boy now has normal speech and will be promoted to Class 4 at the end of this year.
In addition to the review of past participants, EARTHSPEAK conducted a week-long training camp for village health care workers and parent mentors, and also a speech camp for 10 students. Both were very successful.