The human face, the mirror of one’s personality, is valued all over the world for its beauty.
In western society plastic surgery deals foremost with the rejuvenation of the face, but in many other countries the far more prominent field of work is the reconstruction of functionality. The reconstruction of beauty there ranks only second. In countries in Eastern Asia but also in several African and South American states plastic and reconstructive surgery is used as a relief of social isolation. Thousands of people, who have been disfigured by severe burns, facial tumors or by labial or palatal clefts are suffering life-long psychological and physical injuries due to social exclusion. They are the constant target of stares, are being treated worse than lepers and have no caretaker. Deformities, disabilities or diseases are considered signs of a divine curse and many parents deny those children any form of love. Instead the children are either cast out or they are hidden and have to exist in isolation and loneliness. Most of them die young, due to malnutrition either because as a result of the deformity they are unable to ingest food properly or because food is simply denied them. With only little medical effort their faces can be restored and they can be led back into society.
I took the photographs in hospitals in India, Cochin and Cameroon, Ngaoundere during 2004 and 2005. They have been made possible by the support of German surgeons, who have taken it on themselves to provide surgery to injured or deformed people in development countries free of charge. Through their work they reward those in need a chance to lead a normal life.