Facing Africa has been established by Chris Lawrence in 1998 and currently funds two teams of highly skilled and experienced volunteer surgeons from the UK to Ethiopia each year to perform complex facial reconstructive surgery on the victims of the disease noma.

Each team is made up of 4 surgeons (plastic, maxillo-facial and cranio-facial), 3 anaesthetists, an anaesthetic assistant, 3 operating room nurses, 3 ward nurses, a doctor and 2 wound care nurses. Each surgical mission spends 2 weeks in Ethiopia and generally carries out 35 – 45 facial reconstructions. The cost of each mission is around £ 75,000 (US $ 120,000).

Did you know...

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 140,000 new cases of noma every year, mostly in sub-Sahar Africa.

  • Noma affects severely malnourished children starting as a small swelling around the mouth, just within a few days, the swelling increases and a blackish furrow appears and the gangrenous process sets in and, after the scab falls away and a gaping hole is left in the face. It is estimated that the mortality rate reaches up to an alarming 90%.

  • Children and adults affected by noma are being stigmatised by their communities, cannot go out in public, miss on schooling because of bullying and lead very lonely miserable lives.

  • Many of the Facing Africa patients would not even have the resources to buy a bus ticket to their nearest town. Most of the patients have never owned a pair of shoes, had a shower, seen electricity, been in a car, used a toilet or even seen a white man.

  • It costs Facing Africa about £800 to give a child a new face and a new life.

What makes Facing Africa different

  • Facing Africa committed to continuity of care and its patients are monitored after their operations with the follow-up and further treatment arranged when required.

  • 99 percent of Facing Africa patients come from poor rural areas in Ethiopia where they have no access to even basic healthcare. Facing Africa provides these people with transportation from their villages to Addis, clothing, food and accommodation in Facing Africa House for 6 – 8 weeks, surgical and medical care and follows up completely free of charge.

  • Some surgeries Facing Africa completes are major facial reconstructions which are extremely complex using specialist kit and equipment and require a lot of advance planning which starts in the UK months before the start of the mission. These cases often take up a full operating day in the operating theatre in Ethiopia.

Other ways to support

You can support Facing Africa by donating medical consumables and disposables or medical and surgical equipment.


1 Wine Street – 1st Floor
SN10 1DF

Contact Number

01380 827038