Frequently Asked Questions
Why does it sometimes take so long for surgery to take place when a child is sponsored?
When a child is called up for surgery they go for a pre-op check. Sometimes they are not well enough to then proceed with the surgery, so are required to wait for the next intake. In other instances they have to travel a great distance and don't have the funds for travel, we often provide money for this but sometimes it is spent on more pressing needs. Sometimes the parents or grandparents change their mind about proceeding with the surgery and this will often involve more follow up visits to see if we can persuade them to go ahead. We even have parents who say they will attend but don't turn up on the day. We try out best using all our resources to make sure all children get the surgery they need.
How much does it cost for an average surgery?
At the moment we estimate the cost for a patient to be around NZ$ 450. However, this cost can vary greatly depending on the specific surgical needs of the individual child and the complications that sometimes arise. The figure is adjusted on an annual basis to take into account changes in circumstances and costs. This figure includes pre-operation checks, x-rays, medication and transportation to and from medical facilities.
Costs for other patients with physical deformities can range from NZ$ 300 - $ 3000.
Can I sponsor a specific child?
Unfortunately we are no longer able to do this. Changing regulations mean we can no longer publish a childs photo on the internet that could identify them. If you wish to sponsor a child we will select one for you and send you out the details with a photo. You can however state what condition you would like to sponsor. Payments can be arranged on a monthly basis if you do not feel able to cover the full cost of surgery or care immediately.
What exactly is a cleft lip or cleft palate?
Cleft lip and palate is a developmental problem (usually in babies) where the upper lip or palate (roof of the mouth) is not correctly joined, leading to a gap in either the palate or lip and palate. The terms hare lip or hair lip (common misspelling of the previous) are sometimes used colloquially to describe the condition because of the resemblance of a hare's lip.
A cleft lip can range from a simple notch in the upper lip to a complete gap in the lip running into the floor of the nostril. The upper gum may also be involved. This may occur on just one side (unilateral cleft) or both sides (bilateral cleft).
Cleft palate may involve only the soft palate at the back of the mouth or may run forwards through the bone of the hard palate. As with the lip, one or both sides may be affected. Cleft lip and palate or cleft palate occurs in around 1 in 700 babies in the developed world. Around 70% of babies with cleft lips also have cleft palates. Males are more commonly affected than females.
What causes a cleft lip and palate?
It is not entirely clear why this happens in some babies but cleft lip and palate can run in families so it is likely that there may be a genetic factor. If a person is born with a cleft, the chances of that person having a child with a cleft, given no other obvious factor, rises to 1 in 14 (instead of 1 in 700.)
Other possible causes include infections during pregnancy, smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy and deficiency of the B vitamin folic acid which is found in many fruits and vegetables.
No one is entirely sure of the exact cause, however, and it is still currently being debated.
What are the other common problems dealt with?
Hydrocephalus - is a condition that occurs when there is too much cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of the brain which causes the head to swell.
Meningocele (Nasoethmoidal) - is when a defect in the skull allows a cyst to form which fills with cerebrospinal fluid.
Non-malignant tumours - Tumour literally means "swelling", and is sometimes still used with that meaning. However, the term is now primarily used to denote abnormal growth of tissue. This growth can be either malignant or benign (non-malignant.)
Malignant tumors are cancerous. Cancer has the potential to invade and destroy neighboring tissues. Benign tumors do not invade neighboring tissues but may locally grow to great size. They usually do not return after surgical removal.
Club foot - a birth defect. The foot is twisted in and down. Without treatment, persons afflicted often appear to walk on their ankles, or on the sides of their feet. It is the most common birth defect, occurring in approximately one to two per 1000 live births. Approximately half the cases of clubfeet are bilateral (both feet.)
Unrepaired injuries - exactly what they say. This is where a child has been injured in some way but, through lack of ability to reach medical facilities, has never had the injury dealt with.
Who does The Ruel Foundation help?
The Ruel Foundation funds surgeries for children between the age of 1-14 (exceptions are made from time to time) with obvious physical deformities that have a significant impact on the child's health and/or social development. As well the Ruel Foundation has a Children's Home that takes in malnourished / abused children who are in life threatening situations for temporary care. These children are returned to their families if possible or signed over for adoption.
How much money goes overseas?
Any money donated to a specific child goes 100% to that child. Any money given as a general donation is put where it is most needed, we have children living at the Ruel House who need clothing and food. We also fund surgeries for children who don't get sponsorship. Most Ruel Foundation staff serve on a volunteer basis. The only expenses deducted are for the running of the office in New Zealand.
How do we know the money reaches the projects?
Funds are sent direct to the national directors in each nation the Ruel Foundation is operating in. They use this to fund surgeries ,and in the Philippines, run a Children's Home staffed by paid staff which in turn supports the local community.
The New Zealand office submits audited reports to the New Zealand Charities Commission annually.
How can I volunteer?
Please visit our Volunteers
page for more information.
Who pays for airfares to the Philippines?
The individual who is going meets all their own costs- their flights, accommodation, travel and food.