DUE to a lack of knowledge about facial abnormalities in children, many women see these conditions as a curse. They often isolate themselves and their children from their communities.
Yet conditions such as a cleft lip and palate, Moebius Syndrome, and burn victims can be treated with plastic and reconstructive surgery, enabling children to smile.
The Smile Foundation offers treatment to underprivileged children living with facial abnormalities.
The organisation is dedicated to reducing the backlog of the public health care system by treating these children.
The founding members of the foundation are Marc Lubner and George Psaras, head of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg.
"My whole family and my friends shunned me when my son was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate. The sangoma said the devil touched my child.
Said Thandeka from Vereeniging in Gauteng: "I now know that no devil came near me and my friends and family share my joy of having a child who can smile back at me."
Many women who seek information about their children's conditions are counselled by the Smile Foundation.
"While many mothers feel helpless and uncertain about their children's appearance, in most cases there is medical treatment available," said Michelle Gerszt, the foundation's national projects coordinator.
She said they are not alone and there are many women with children in similar situations.
"We encourage women to seek assistance," Gerszt said.
For more information you can telephone 087-808-8682, fax 086-538-1287 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org