Successes, challenges, connections and how you can help: Reflections from Executive Director Abbey Kocan’s recent visit to CCBRT

Refreshed. Energized. Invigorated.

A few words that describe how I felt after visiting CCBRT Headquarters in Dar es Salaam. I am always amazed at the volume of life-changing activity underway. I am incredibly proud of our role – your role – in making it happen. We depend on the annual support of our donors and partners to continue our work.

Building a hospital and building capacity

Eight full days in Tanzania included meetings with Senior Management and Department Heads to understand their successes and challenges, a tour of the Maternity and Newborn Hospital construction site (more photos here) and a visit to two of the public health facilities where we continue our maternal and newborn health capacity building efforts. It’s hard to imagine the crowded conditions, the heat, the smells, unless you are there. Our Board President recounted his experience in a blog post last year. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read it.

Invested leadership

An unexpected visit from CCBRT’s Board President, Dr. Willibrod Slaa, provided me with the opportunity to get to know him. CEO Erwin Telemans and I sat down to lunch with Dr. Slaa and his wife. It was an inspiring conversation. For people who are managing so much, they are very aware of Kupona’s activities, and challenged us to play a larger role in fundraising and identifying partnership opportunities. Kupona – and you, our supporters, play an important role in the long-term sustainability of CCBRT.

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Maternity and Newborn Hospital construction – view from the side


Abbey meets Dr. Willibrod Slaa, CCBRT Board President

Abbey meets Dr. Willibrod Slaa, CCBRT Board President

Seeing is believing

We love visits from our partners and supporters. Even the most poignent stories cannot depict what it’s like to actually spend time at CCBRT. Mary Mei, one of Kupona’s Advisory Board members, overlapped with me in Dar. She describes her first visit to CCBRT here. I was also thrilled to spend part of an afternoon with Jessica, from our partner Smile Train.


Visit from our partner SmileTrain

Left to right: Abbey (Kupona), Erwin (CCBRT), Jessica (SmileTrain) and Suzan (CCBRT) in front of the Disability Hospital


Suffering and hope

A walk through the Disability Hospital reveals suffering and hope. Suffering on the face of the mother with her baby who was born with a cleft lip, and HOPE knowing that she will not suffer from malnutrition due to her disability. It is thanks to partners like Smile Train that we were able to restore smiles to over 440 children last year.


Baby Marisa awaiting cleft surgery at CCBRT (photo credit: Benjamin Eagle)

Baby Marisa awaiting cleft surgery at CCBRT (photo credit: Benjamin Eagle)

We need your help to do more

Our current constraint is space. There is more demand for smile-restoring cleft surgeries, dignity-restoring fistula repairs, and mobility-restoring orthopedic interventions than we can meet. We’re in the process of finalizing plans and seeking funding to build a new ward for our cleft, orthopedic and fistula patients. But we need your help.

To close with a note of gratitude – thank you for all that you’ve given in the past, and for your commitment to our cause. Help us spread the word. Follow us on social media. Think about how Kupona and CCBRT fit in to your philanthropic giving in 2014. With your support, we will continue to grow and change lives.