New Smiles for Western Cape Kids
Imagine your child was born with a broken smile. Then, you finally get offered the chance to take the child for life-changing facial reconstructive surgery. Devastatingly, you do not even have money for transport to take your child to the hospital.
During Vodacom Smile Week (14-18 November) at Tygerberg Hospital, 27 children with facial conditions will receive reconstructive surgery. Conditions of the children being operated on include Cleft Lip and Palate, ear conditions, some cranio-facial conditions and burn wounds.
Moira Gerszt, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Smile Foundation, says the foundation has become aware of the plight of mothers of children with facial conditions in the Western Cape. "The biggest needs of mothers in the province are transportation, support before and after their children's surgeries and education about these conditions."
About the opportunity to change 27 children's lives, Gerszt says, "As we head towards the festive season, what better Christmas present could Smile Foundation and Vodacom give 27 children than a life-changing smile? We are very excited that, through this partnership, we will be able to share smiles with the children of the Western Cape."
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, says, "I am so proud of this partnership where our hospital staff, specialists and nurses are joining hands with Vodacom towards a future generation of smiles. This is a project that cannot be bought with rands and cents but is borne out of compassion and goodwill. As provincial government, it is our role to facilitate opportunities with the private sector towards a healthier and happier community. That is in line with our objective of wellness."
"The work done by the Smile Foundation and Vodacom is a great example of how the private sector can assist our government in delivering quality health care to citizens and, in this case, also make a profound difference to the lives of children who were born with facial conditions. Around 80% of the health budget is spent on diseases and injuries that are preventable and often a consequence of lifestyle choices. This means we do not have enough money to provide care and assistance to people living with disabilities. The value Smile Week will bring to the lives of 27 children, who will be given the opportunity of a future with a higher self-esteem, a sense of dignity and, most importantly, full and joyous smiles is truly immeasurable," added Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.
The Smile Foundation has been partnering with academic hospitals in South Africa to help underprivileged children with facial conditions receive necessary surgery. In this way, backlogs in the hospitals are alleviated, skills transfer is facilitated, as well as offering psychological help before and after surgery and supporting the hospital infrastructure. The success of the Smile Week model has been widespread. To date, approximately 800 children have benefited from surgeries around the country through the partnership with seven state academic hospitals.