38 children have reason to smile

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

For the first time in his life, Tshepiso Moerane will be able to smile back at his mother.

Three-month-old Tshepiso, of Kagiso on the West Rand, was born with a cleft palate that affects feeding and speech.

On Monday he underwent corrective surgery at the Johannesburg Hospital.

"I am happy he has had the operation," said his mother Johanna. "When he was born I was shocked because I didn't understand what was wrong with him."

Tshepiso is one of 38 children who will undergo reconstructive surgery as part of Smile Week, a joint initiative of the Smile Foundation, Johannesburg Hospital and Vodacom Foundation.

Smile Week, which started on Monday and goes on until Friday, will give underprivileged children with defects such as cleft palates, facial paralysis and injuries reason to smile.

"These children are often ostracised," said Johannesburg Hospital chief executive Sagie Pillay.

"They will now get an opportunity to do what they want."

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