Many of you who will read this blog, know that I currently work in the skin care industry. This is a field full of individuals focused towards correcting facial imperfections to increase their clients perception of themselves. After all, the first thing people look at when they meet you is your face.
Outside of my day job, I enjoy researching about socially responsible companies wether it be for profit or non-profit to see what types of ideas and actions are currently in play towards improving the quality of life for all. I find it fascinating that the majority of us, regardless of nationality, religion, or income status come together to create or support causes that touch our hearts.
From the beginning of my research, I have found a particular concern and yearning to support many of the issues that confront various countries within Africa. One day while searching the internet, I stumbled on some graphic images of kids who have survived a disease called Noma. When I first saw these images I was, to say the least, taken back. I did not want to believe the images were real, but new I could not burry my head in the sand.
After viewing the pictures, it was very difficult to find information on the disease. It appears that many doctors have not heard of Noma. The one creditable website that I have found for Noma is a non-profit organization based out of the UK called Facing Africa, (www.facingafrica.org). Facing Africa is dedicated to funding trips to Nigeria and Ethiopia and providing voluntary surgeons and supplies to perform facial reconstructions on survivors of Noma and other facial disfigurements related to extreme poverty. I emailed the organization immediately trying to find ways to help with what little money I had. Chris Lawrence, the founder (and now very good friend) of Facing Africa was very helpful in giving me more information about the disease and what his organization is doing to help Noma survivors lead normal, more comfortable lives.
Noma is known as the "Disease of Poverty" and is most prevalent in children under six. It starts as a fever, and in malnourished children progresses and creates an ulcer in the mouth. If the ulcer goes untreated the infection begins to eat away the skin of the cheek, lips, and sometimes eats through the palate and eye. In infants the lips deteriorate which leaves them unable to breast feed and eventually they die.
Below is a video about Noma and the Facing Africa organization.
According to the World Health Organization approximately 140,000 new cases of Noma are found each year, this does not include the many cases that are not discovered due to the social taboo that is associated with the disease. An estimated 90% of the children who become infected with Noma die. Those who survive are left with severe facial disfigurements that cause discomfort in normal daily activities.
After learning about Noma and seeing the pictures of the children effected with Noma, I have gained several new perspectives. In the skin care industry, already beautiful women and men receive facial treatments and procedures everyday to make them look even more beautiful. Learning about Noma really makes you take a second look at about how you judge what you see in the mirror everyday. I look at the kids in the video above, and wonder how I ever stressed over something so small as a pimple. The kids also exert such a fierce glow of inner beauty, they are so strong for waking up each day and living with the cards that they have been dealt. The contents within the video and the Facing Africa site truly touched my heart. If the information in the post did anything for you, I would like to encourage you to share it with others, and spread the word about Facing Africa and this completely preventable disease.
*The information an images in this blog come directly from the Facing Africa website or from conversations with Chris Lawrence the founder of Facing Africa.