Press releases

Vodacom Foundation

Vodacom to give 42 children the gift of a smile

Monday, 12 September 2011

Vodacom is once again partnering with the Smile Foundation to facilitate operations on 42 children with facial reconstruction surgery at the Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein this week.

Cleft lip and palate are amongst the most common birth defects and it is estimated that one in 700 children are born with this condition. In South Africa, children with this condition and their families are often stigmatised by the community in which they live. However, through partnerships such as that between Vodacom and the Smile Foundation, it is now possible to provide corrective surgery to rectify the condition in just a few hours and thereby give a child the gift of a smile.

Mthobi Tyamzashe, Executive Director, CSI Vodacom, says, "Vodacom is pleased to, once again, join hands with the Smile Foundation to help children needing cleft and lip palate surgery to realise their dreams."

Vodacom has supported the Smile Foundation since 2007 and has donated R11.5 million to date to ensure that children throughout the country are able to smile with confidence.

Moira Gerzst, COO of Smile Foundation, says, "We are looking forward to changing so many children's lives this week, in association with Vodacom. The impact we'll be having is far reaching and we hope that many more mothers who have children with a facial condition reach out to us for help by going to their nearest hospital and asking about Smile Foundation."

The surgeries will take place from the 12th until the 17th September 2011 at the Universitas Hospital. They will be conducted by a team of surgeons who have collaborated with the various departments to ensure that the many surgeries can take place during the five days. Dr Efraim van der Walt, a plastic surgeon in private practice who was born with a cleft palate and lip will form part of the team performing the surgeries.

The children will also receive speech therapy and will have their hearing tested by a private speech therapy practice. The practice will offer ongoing support to the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Universitas Hospital to help deal with patients who attend the clinic and need assistance.

The 42 children range from as young as ten months to ten years old, and come from as far as Kimberley in the Northern Cape, Welkom and the Gold Fields, Parys, Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State, and even Lesotho.


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