Children get real reasons to smile

2015-11-24 06:00
 Niyole and Nomlinganiso Tsokobe from Atlantis, moments before Niyole went into surgery to have her scalp reconstructed.                      PHOTO: magriet theron

Niyole and Nomlinganiso Tsokobe from Atlantis, moments before Niyole went into surgery to have her scalp reconstructed. PHOTO: magriet theron

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Smile Week is coming up at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s hospital from 30 November, and if their previous successes of corrective facial surgery on children are anything to go by, this event will permanently change the lives of a special group of children and their families.

Most recently the Smile Foundation ran Smile Week at Tygerberg hospital, the academic hospital in Parow. Between 9 and 13 November ward G3 of this hospital became busier as 43 little patients with facial deformities were treated as part of Smile Week.

Two doctors, Prof Frank Graewe and Dr Alexander Zühlke, and their plastic and reconstructive surgical teams used two theatres and the staff of ward G3 to make this happen.

The Smile Foundation took care of all the needs that arose around this group of patients.

Free services eight times a yearThe Smile Foundation, an NGO that was founded in 2000, has a memorandum with eight academic hospitals in South Africa. Although they support the hospitals throughout the year, for one week per year their efforts at each hospital are concentrated.

“We get donors on board, support the children with their transport, help source the necessary equipment for their operations and offer services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and psychology for parents and patients so that they are more relaxed before surgery,” says Moira Gertsz, operations executive director.

“There are so many children in the Western Cape needing corrective surgery, and it will be very gratifying for us to see them having these much needed operations,” she says.

One in 750 South African children is born with facial deformities.

“We are mindful of the needs of the hospitals, we acknowledge the challenges of each hospital and the different communities they serve. We have to balance the donors’ expectations. But in the end Smile is all about the kids.

“We do not charge their families anything. Those who qualify to be helped are those without medical aid who are patients at the hospital, as well as some patients who are referred through us,” says Gertsz.

According to Doreen Kosi of Adcock Ingram, who sponsors this week, “Smile Week is our flagship project. We are guided by Smile and we follow their strategy. We want to add value.”

Cole Basson (5) from Brooklyn was born with a hole behind his palette. His mother, Megan, says the hole was almost 7cm in diameter and had a detrimental effect on his speech development.

The day after his operation, Cole was eating yogurt and had his face painted by volunteers who entertained the children in the play room of ward G3.

“What stood out for me was the will and determination of the mothers. They are the real heroes in this country. The strength of mommies are really unique,” says Gertsz.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.