Facing the World

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Facing the World is a United Kingdom-based charity that offers surgery to children with facial disfigurements. All the children offered surgery are from poor countries where they would have no other access to surgery to help them overcome their disfigurements.


Facing the World was set up in 2003 by Norman Waterhouse and Martin Hirigoyen Kelly, two craniofacial plastic surgeons at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Both had formerly volunteered their time and skills to medical outreach charities abroad, but had been touched by cases of children that they were unable to help because of the limited facilities and lack of expertise in the countries in which they were working. With Facing the World, they determined to bring children to the UK for surgery, rather than attempting to perform the operations with the limited infrastructure of the children's home countries. Bringing the children to the UK allowed them to draw on the skills of other like-minded UK medical professionals. Sarah Driver-Jowitt was hired to manage the charity and in 2004, an office was established close to the London hospitals where the majority of the surgeries are performed. The charity was launched publicly on February 15, 2003 at a charity fund-raising premiere of the film Solaris attended by George Clooney and his co-stars.


The charity provides treatment for children from poor countries who have severe facial disfigurements that have significant functional challenges or are likely to cause them deep emotional and psychological trauma as a result of community stigma.

The children are assessed in their own country, so the doctors can ascertain whether the individual could be helped by surgery and what specialist care will be required. If the assessment is positive arrangements are made to fly the child to London for treatment. The medical team donate their services and the charity relies on fund raising and donations to fund the remaining medical costs, travel and accommodation for the child and a guardian.

Facing the World was featured in an hour-long Channel 4 documentary My New Face on 15 November 2006. The documentary covered the work of the charity over the period of a year, and featured the cases of Arianto from Jakarta, who suffered gigantism of one side of his face caused by neurofibromatosis; Ney, a Cambodian boy who was born with encephalocele (his brain protruded into his face through a defect in his skull); Zaynab, an eight-month-old girl from Gaza who had a cleft lip and palate; and Eyerusalem from Addis Ababa, one of the charity's earliest patients who had a vascular malformation removed in 2003.

In February 2010, Facing the World managed to secure the paperwork to allow Landina Seignon, a three-month-old Haitian orphan to travel to the United Kingdom for treatment. Landina suffered a significant burns prior to the earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January 2010. The hospital in which she was being treated collapsed and Landina was rescued two days later suffering a life-threatening cranial fracture and necessitating the amputation of her right arm. Landina was brought to the United Kingdom for the craniofacial surgery that she desperately needed. Facing the World is covering all her medical and other costs.

Facing the World was featured in an hour long Five (TV Channel) documentary 7 New Faces in 7 Days on 28 June 2010. The documentary covered charities training visit to Danang, Vietnam and featured a number of the patients,['against innocent and defenseless victims of the massive bombing of Agent Orange']created in Vietnam as well as three patients who came to the UK for training. Extraordinary People: 7 New Faces in 7 Days