An experienced and dedicated team of staff and volunteers ensures that help for noma children is available. Experts from Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Austria work together in a spirit of trust to help the little noma patients in the best possible way.
Ute Winkler-Stumpf founded and runs the association since 1994. When she saw a report on a noma child on television, she decided to help - one child has turned into thousands to date, whom Ute Winkler-Stumpf and her team have been able to help, often saving lives in the process. She has captured her experiences in the book "The Gift of a Smile".
In the meantime, Dr. Kubiena has performed hundreds of noma surgeries and is an expert in his field. Several times a year, he closes his practice for aesthetic and cosmetic treatments in Vienna and travels with the Hilfsaktion Noma e.V. to the project countries to operate on Noma children: "When the Noma children come to our hospital, their faces gape with festering, bloody wounds. I can help these children to smile and dream again - and that is my greatest motivation! Because for me, the face is the mirror of the soul. “
After studying medicine in Europe, Dr. Issa decided to return to his home country and help the children of his country. Dr. Issa is a true multi-talent: In his daily routine as head of the Noma Clinic in Niamey, he performs examinations and surgeries and educates patients about nutrition and hygiene. The little patients love Dr. Issa for his funny jokes. With his strength and endurance, Dr. Issa is a role model for the entire team of doctors: "Together, only together, can we help the children.
Richard Gabler studied Catholic theology, entered the service of the diocese of Regensburg as a pastoral advisor and worked first in the youth pastoral and in the parish pastoral, then as education advisor in the marriage and family pastoral. He has been committed to noma children for years --- and also collects a considerable amount of money himself through his readings of Ludwig Thoma's "Holy Night" during the Christmas season to support our work.
For more than two decades Mariama Harouna has been working for Hilfsaktion Noma e.V. As the head of the outpatient nutrition unit in Birni N'Konni, Niger, the 50-year-old saves hundreds of starving children week after week. She gives them food and explains to mothers how to feed their children nutritiously with few resources and simple preparation methods. "I would like to thank the friends and supporters of Hilfsaktion Noma e.V. for supporting us in saving children from the agonizing death from starvation! Every euro is a life-saving help for us."
As the son of Ute Winkler-Stumpf, Mathis Winkler already dealt with the disease noma as a young student. Today, the experienced journalist and project manager works as the head of projects of Hilfsaktion Noma e.V. and is on site in Africa several times a year to organize and accompany the relief efforts.
As a business administration graduate with experience in controlling at a large publishing and online media company, Jasmin is responsible for the finance and fundraising activities of Hilfsaktion Noma e.V. She is also responsible for the coordination of our partner organizations.
When Dr. Stanek from Delmenhorst decided to become a physician, he was driven by a thought: He wanted to save lives. And this is exactly what the dedicated doctor is doing today - with his expertise he accompanies noma children during their operations under anesthesia. Although he cannot use the same state-of-the-art equipment in the noma hospitals as in Germany, Dr. Stanek remains calm: "I draw my strength for the often nerve-wracking surgeries from the knowledge that there are people who, like me, are wholeheartedly committed to the noma children. Knowing that we are not alone in the fight against this terrible disease, but that donors support us, gives me courage."
The former head of the department of plastic, hand and microsurgery at the trauma clinic Murnau is head of the Southern Bavaria Section of Interplast Germany e.V. He has been active as a plastic surgeon in humanitarian missions worldwide since 1992. Since 1998 he has been intensively involved in facial reconstruction for noma and has in particular continuously developed the combined microsurgical flap plastics for this purpose. He has also developed a special noma distractor and introduced it to routine treatment of lockjaw in Africa. Dr. Schmidt regularly travels to Niger and Guinea-Bissau for Hilfsaktion's surgical campaigns. In addition to helping noma children, the education of his African colleagues is particularly close to his heart: "That's the only way we can we do lasting good!"
Elfriede Aufhauser has been supporting our work since Hilfsaktion was founded in 1994 and has now been active on the board for many years: "As long as I am given the gift of health, I will work for others as far as my abilities allow," says the retired accountant, who also looks after her three grandchildren in Regensburg, is committed to a theater club, and works as a volunteer with people with dementia.
The former director of the Regensburg adult education center has been supporting his wife Ute Winkler-Stumpf in every possible way since the founding of Hilfsaktion Noma e.V. For several years now, he's been acting as secretary, recording the decisions of the board and the annual general meetings. As an artist, he also designs Hilfsaktion's annual Christmas cards.
The dental surgeon originally comes from Zinder in the east of Niger, but has now lived with his family in the capital Niamey for many years. After stations in various hospitals, most recently as head of the National Hospital, Dr. Amadou was head of the national noma program in the Ministry of Health since 2014. From 2018 he initially worked as head of the training center for Hilfsaktion and took over the national coordination in January 2019.
Rita provides fresh clothes and bed linen for our little patients – and sometimes sews on a button that’s come apart while the kids are playing. But the 57-year-old mother of six also always welcomes the little ones when they have something to talk about: "I feel sad when the children suffer."
As the adopted son of Ute Winkler-Stumpf and as the first noma child to receive surgery in Germany, Binia Benjamin Winkler has headed the noma office in Regensburg since October 2019. Binia would like to give something back and support the help against the disease noma. After graduating as an industrial clerk in 2010, Binia worked in this profession for four years and then graduated as a state-approved fashion designer in 2017.
"Good day! How are you!" Anita greets German-speaking visitors in Bissau - because the nurse learned German quite well when she accompanied little Aua to Germany for operations a few years ago. Anita lovingly cares for the Noma children in the hospital and takes away their fear of the serious operations with her cheerful manner.
The nurse himself is father of a son and always wanted to open an orphanage. "That's why I love working with Hilfsaktion," says Mendonca. After a few years of working as a caregiver for patients in the noma center, he now runs the children's house of Hilfsaktion in Bissau with great commitment.
Petra Raschkewitz gained her first experience in development cooperation at a young age. Through many years as a project manager in international aid projects, she is very familiar with working with different cultures and challenges. She supports Hilfsaktion Noma in the coordination and implementation of projects.
The father of three children has had many responsibilities: Mamadú Mané worked for various organizations as project manager and was an advisor to the president of the parliament for finance and economy. When he heard about the work of our founder Ute Winkler-Stumpf, he did not hesitate for a moment to help. "Her commitment against noma in Africa has impressived me very much," says the 61-year-old, who has been our national coordinator in Guinea-Bissau since 2008. "I want to do my part to help the noma children here in Bissau."
As a surgical nurse, Moustapha has been supporting our teams on missions for more than 10 years - but when the management of our children's home in Maradi had to be newly staffed in 2019, the 40-year-old father of a small boy did not hesitate: Together with his wife, he moved to the country's second largest city, about 9 hours away by car. However, when it comes to surgical operations, we can still rely on Moustapha, who likes to broaden his horizon by travelling in his spare time.
As an architect, Roland Mittermayer has been a mainstay of our work for years in the truest sense of the word: He has designed, among other things, the hospital, the children's house and the reintegration centre under construction in Guinea-Bissau for the relief action and is currently planning what is probably the largest project in our association's history: a new Noma centre in Nigeria. "I want to create places of confidence for the Noma children," says the father of two foster sons, who as chairman of our support association also makes an extraordinary contribution to securing our work financially.
Massaoudou wears his “gift of a smile” with pride: When he was still a child, noma raged in his face and destroyed its core. A gaping hole replaced his nose and upper jaw. Due to the seriousness of his disfigurement, he was evacuated to Germany by HAN in 1996, where his face was reconstructed in more than 50 surgeries by Viennese surgeon Prof. Dr. Jürgen Holle. For more than two years he lived in Regensburg as a family member of Ute Winkler-Stumpf. In 1998, he was finally able to return home. The 38-year-old and his wife Rachida are now proud parents of two children themselves. "I am very happy," he says in fluent German, which he has not forgotten even after 22 years. "The noma children often ask me if the surgeries hurt. Then I tell them: 'It hurts a little at first, but it gets better.' I give them strength."
Whenever something needs to be organized quickly in Niger, Ali Diadie Anouar is usually not far away. The 35-year-old has been taking care of the smooth running of our work on the ground for three years now, making sure that bills are paid and materials get to where they are needed. "I'm proud to be part of the team," says Ali, who himself recently became a father. "I've always wanted to help the poorest and I'm glad I can do this."
Mariama has been looking after our medical teams for 16 years: She makes sure that the guest house next to our hospital in Niamey is well prepared so that our aid workers can relax there after long days of surgeries. Still, the 38-year-old mother of a boy always thinks of our patients first: "The important thing is that we all know who needs our help and, above all, our attention!"
Mahamadou Oumarou Inkaye does not get upset easily. The 42-year-old, himself a father of 4 children, runs our children's home in Niamey -- a job that requires strong nerves, as Mahamadou is sometimes responsible for up to 50 children during surgery. As a trained nurse, he has been working for Hilfsaktion since 2005 and makes sure that the little ones are well looked after before, during and after the operations. "I'm glad that I can help the children," says Mahamadou, who enjoys sports most in his free time.
Dr. Candé has been at our side in Bissau since 2008: The 65-year-old is one of the few dentists in the country and cares lovingly for our little ones. Himself a father of six children, Dr. Candé is always ready for a joke and his friendly manner takes away the patients' fear of treatment. "I have always wanted to help the poorest," says Dr. Candé, who studied in Cuba. In future, he wants to concentrate on passing on his knowledge to younger colleagues in Bissau.
Mourtala is originally from Tahoua, but as a child he criss-crossed Niger with his parents and thus got to know the most diverse regions of his country. His interest in medicine was aroused by US doctor series - but even more important for the now 28-year-old was the desire to help his little sister, who suffers from sickle cell anaemia and epilepsy. He decided to specialize in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine and is now an integral part of our surgical team. Mourtala particularly appreciates the excellent technical equipment in our clinic: "As anaesthesia is a very complex field, having the right equipment is a great help to be able to work calmly while ensuring the comfort and safety for our patients." His plans for the future? Starting a family of his own, expanding his knowledge - and always staying curious. "To quote Confucius, 'Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life'".
Bacar Mané is our social assistant in Guinea-Bissau: The 41-year-old, himself a father of four children, continues to help our patients after their treatment. He talks to them, visits them in their families and finds out how we can best help them to lead an independent life. For the little ones, this means making sure they go to school regularly -- for the older ones, Bacar looks after training positions, for example as a cook, carpenter or hairdresser. "It is important to me to strengthen their self-confidence," says Bacar, who has already accompanied more than 100 children on their way into their new lives.
When it smells delicious at lunchtime in the children's home in Niamey, Balkissa Chaibou is responsible for it. The passionate cook provides our little patients with traditional Nigerien dishes every day, which are also easy for the children to eat. When Balkissa calls to the table, the seats in the dining room are always quickly filled!
Attahirou knows how the children feel who come to our Noma hospital in Niamey for treatment: The young man suffered from the disease himself and is still visibly marked by Noma today. This is precisely why he is one of our most important staff members for our young patients: "They see that there is life after noma," says Attahirou. "And I am happy that I can help in this way!"
Fanta Touré worked as a cook for us for many years until her own health prevented her from doing this heavy work. However, she has always been a "temporary mother" for our Noma children, who sometimes spend several months in the children's house. Now she devotes herself entirely to the patients and plays with them while they wait for their treatment -- or recover from the surgeries. Fanta is and remains the good soul in the children's house.
Djibo Ousmane Moko keeps things moving: As one of our drivers, the 48-year-old makes sure that our patients are at the children's home in time for their treatments, runs errands in Niamey--and picks up our medical teams from the airport. The father of seven children is universally popular and always ready to help. His serenity may come from his hobby. "I have been breeding sheep since I was young," says Djibo. "It's a nice balance to my work."
Fatinaba is one of our newest members of staff and we are particularly pleased that she has joined our team: the psychologist helps our patients to cope with the consequences of their illness. "They have to accept their situation," says the 42-year-old mother of a child, for whom good mental health is the basis for everything else. "This is important to help them discover their life dreams."
As a senior nurse, Hama is responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly in our hospital in Niger. He makes sure that sterile surgical instruments are available and that the clinic pharmacy is filled with the medication required for the operations. "Our team here is really motivated to help," says the 39-year-old, who has been with us for five years himself. He likes to recover from his often stressful job with a good book -- or an exciting soccer game.
Hadissa Hazane has been keeping our clinic in Niger clean for 15 years according to the highest standards of hygiene. She is happy to support the work of the relief operation -- even if, in her opinion, others should take responsibility for it. "Actually, that's the job of us here in Niger," says the 37-year-old mother of two, who also looks after our little patients when necessary. "But since we don't have the money for this, I'm thankful that you help us!"
Whoever crosses Amar Illo's path can only rejoice: the 56-year-old radiates a great cordiality that rubs off on everyone around him. For 14 years, he has been working as a gardener at our hospital in Niamey, looking after the outdoor facilities, thus ensuring a pleasant environment in which the children can recover after surgery. "We all see the condition in which the children arrive here," says Amar. "We treat them like our own children. I am always happy when they can laugh again with their new faces."
When her husband was recently transferred from Tahoua to Niamey, 550 km away, Haoua Halidou came under pressure: The 35-year-old nurse had been looking after our patients in the children's home in Tahoua since 2007 and was saddened to have to give up her beloved work there. Fortunately, our team at the hospital in Niamey was looking for a new nurse at that very moment -- so the relief operation can continue to rely on the loving support of the five-fold mother!
Djenaba is the good soul of our team in Bissau: the 43-year-old mother of two sons takes care of visitors to our noma center and is also a true organisational talent: she ensures that the orphanages we support are provided with food, medicine and hygiene products on a monthly basis to minimize the risk of noma disease. "I am delighted every time the children dance and sing and are happy when we come to them," says Djenaba. "I am grateful that I can help to make their lives a little bit better."
From the beginning, Dr. N'Tchasso has supported our work in Bissau. The former director of the National Hospital and personal physician of the President of the Republic prepares Noma children for their operations and treats patients who seek help in our Noma Centre every day.
Rosa da Costa not only cooks for our little patients in the children's house in Bissau, but also acts as a kind of substitute mother during their stay.
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