Photo Credit: Smile Foundation

The Smile Foundation will host its first-ever Smile Week at the Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital where baby Remogo will undergo reconstructive surgery for her bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate.


Klerksdorp, South Africa (19 April 2023) – Today, Wednesday the 19th of April 2023, marks a day of hope for baby Remogo Lehihi and ten other little ones who will be undergoing life-changing surgeries at the Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital, thanks to Smile Foundation with their partners and sponsors.

This first-ever Smile Week to be held in Klerksdorp will see 5-month-old baby Remogo undergo the first phase of remedial surgeries for bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate which is an abnormality she was born with. Plastic surgeon, Dr Shashi Agarwal, explained that this is the first of three surgeries for little Remogo.

Cleft lip and palates occur when facial structures that are developing in an unborn baby don’t close completely, causing separation or splits in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth, or both. Smile Weeks, in collaboration with our partner hospitals and donors, take place nationally throughout the year in order to assist children in need of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Baby Remogo struggled with breastfeeding as she could not latch to her mother because of her condition, causing her parents a lot of distress. Not being able to find a cleft bottle in their area added to their difficulties. They were forced to travel a long distance before they eventually found one. The most immediate concern for a baby with a cleft palate is good nutrition.

This week will be the beginning of a hopeful and happy journey for Remogo and the other little ones who will be undergoing reconstructive surgeries in order to live a life inspired by confidence and possibility.

On 11 April 2023, The Beacon of Smiles Award was presented to the CEO of Smile Foundation, Mrs Kim Robertson Smith and her team, for their unwavering dedication and commitment to changing lives through surgical interventions, emotional support, and education for children with craniofacial abnormalities, cleft lip and palate, and reconstructive surgeries for burn survivors in South Africa.

Smile Foundation has illuminated the path of hope for over 5,000 children and their families, creating lasting impact in their lives and in their communities. The organisation has continued to grow exponentially, performing an impressive 1066 surgeries in the span of the last twelve months, while also ensuring holistic care for both patients and caregivers.

North West’s Health MEC Madoda Sambatha has welcomed the initiative and committed his Department to support Smile Foundation’s effort to bring smiles to children.

“We will work together with Smile Foundation to perform more remedial surgeries for bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate as part of broadening access to this life-changing procedure for the children,” said MEC Sambatha.

Kim gave thanks for all the support that the foundation has received. She is especially thankful this week, as they launched the first-ever Smile Week in Klerksdorp.

“Our heartfelt gratitude and admiration goes out to every one of the medical professionals at the Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital, the administration, sponsors, volunteers and colleagues who have gone above and beyond to sacrifice their time to change lives of very special children and make miracles happen. The sad reality is that people tend to avoid what looks different from the norm. Because of this, children with physical differences are often made to feel isolated from other children as well as their communities.

Corrective life-changing surgeries will take place during this Smile Week and the lives of these children and their families will change forever,” said Kim Robertson Smith.

How does a Smile Week work?

The Smile Foundation brings together talented teams of doctors and nurses to work at provincial hospitals where the need is greatest. These teams perform long-awaited reconstructive surgeries for babies and children. These often include procedures for craniofacial abnormalities, cleft lip and palate, and reconstructive surgeries for burn survivors in South Africa.

The funds raised for a week, help address the backlog of surgeries. Most of these Smile Weeks will see ten or more children assisted. Some will receive multiple surgeries over time, to aid in more complex cases.

The Smile Foundation co-ordinates the entire week on behalf of donors and sponsors. They have their own trust that also hosts weeks throughout the year.

Corporate sponsors are one of the biggest contributors to Smile Weeks however, individuals and communities are also able to contribute and work towards hosting a week at their local hospitals. If you know of a young patient who needs surgical assistance, you can also refer them for a Smile Week.

This special “service” helps people address the need in some of South Africa’s remotest areas. You can find out more about the Smile Foundation via the website here.

Source: The Smile Foundation
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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