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Vodacom Foundation

Vodacom Smile Week to give 27 Western Cape children an early Christmas with the gift of a smile

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Smile Foundation and Vodacom will provide 27 children with facial reconstruction surgery at Tygerberg Hospital this week. The project is in collaboration with the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Stellenbosch. The conditions of the children being operated on include those of cleft lip and palate, ear conditions, cranio-facial conditions and burn wounds.

Mthobi Tyamzashe, Executive Director, CSI Vodacom, says, "Vodacom is pleased to join hands with the Smile Foundation to help children needing cleft and lip palate surgery to realise their dreams of living normal lives. Whilst the value of the contribution we have been able to provide over the years, is modest compared with the need, we are heartened by the wonderful stories told by successful beneficiaries of these life-saving operations."

Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common birth defects and it is estimated that one in every 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 this, many of these facial conditions can be rectified in a matter of one or two hours.

This will be the ninth Smile Week that Vodacom has supported since 2007. Vodacom has donated R11.5 million to date and assisted  288 children throughout the country to smile with confidence. The Smile Foundation, a South African NGO, has been integral in assisting children with any type of facial condition to receive free corrective plastic and reconstructive surgery.

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. "Besides a critical need for education around these conditions, mothers in the Western Cape also need transport to and from the hospital as well as support before and after their children's surgery."

The surgeries will take place at Tygerberg Hospital during the week of 14 to 18 November.  A team of surgeons has collaborated with the various departments to ensure that the various surgeries can take place during the five days. Surgeons from other Universities throughout the country will attend Vodacom Smile Week to manage specific surgeries.

The children will also receive speech therapy from a private speech therapy practice. As part of the programme, ward and theatre nurses will attend a Wound Dressing course, which has been organised by an accredited service provider. The 27 children range from as young as ten months to ten years old, all from the Western Cape.


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