Scores of children given chance for smiling faces

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Thirty five children suffering from various facial deformities will have reason to smile this week.

They will undergo reconstructive surgery, free of charge, at the Johannesburg Hospital as part of the Smile Week programme which started yesterday.

Smile Week, an initiative of the Smile Foundation, in partnership with the hospital, is a response to an appeal made by former President Nelson Mandela to help the afflicted children.

Mandela tried to raise funds for a child who, because of facial paralysis, could not smile.

Every year, following Mandela's request in 2003, underprivileged children with facial deformities from around the continent are given a reason to smile.

They come from Angola, Mozambique and Botswana with varying degrees of facial deformities. Some have cleft lips while others are scarred by burns. The children are transported from their respective countries, including around South Africa, to the hospital.

Infants are brought by their mothers while older children come on their own.

Last year Vodacom donated R2million to Smile Week.

The week is dedicated to the programme where surgeons, nurses and psychologists donate their time and skills to help put a smile on these children's faces.

Marc Lubner of the Smile Foundation praised "every medical professional, nurses and psychologists who worked to give the children a brighter future".