Smile Week Kimberly
Photo Credit: Smile Foundation

The Smile Foundation’s Smile Week recently took place in Kimberly and several children were given life-changing surgeries that will make you (and them) smile!


Kimberley, South Africa (26 November 2021) – Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” Smile Foundation’s Smile Week gives a beautiful example of this thought.

Coordinated by Smile Foundation, Smile Week is a working week, during which surgeons, surgical teams, medical professionals and hospital staff open their hearts and clear their schedules to perform reconstructive surgery on disadvantaged children suffering from facial anomalies and the emotional pain that surrounds these conditions. 

Commencing on 22 November 2021, this upcoming Smile Week, is sponsored by Vodacom Foundation – the corporate social investment (CSI) arm of Vodacom. In collaboration with The Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley and Smile Foundation, Vodacom Foundation is ready to significantly change the lives of 20 hopeful children.

“We are beyond grateful to Vodacom Foundation, as well as the team of dedicated and compassionate surgeons, medical professionals and hospital staff, who will be going above and beyond, to give these children the life-changing surgery they so desperately need.”  – Kim Robertson Smith, GM of Smile Foundation 

This will be the fourth Smile Week taking place at this designated hospital. Some of the children undergoing life-changing surgery, are Marlene, Mondrisha and Katlego.   

Marlene, now six years of age, was diagnosed with partial brain damage after birth. Her hearing is also impaired due to a deformity of her ears. This has made it extremely difficult for this little girl to take part in and enjoy the everyday activities of other children her age. Marlene has been undergoing treatment at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital’s Paediatric Clinic since birth and was later referred to the hospital’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery unit, where she will undergo reconstructive ear surgery during Smile Week. Having a hearing impairment herself and the responsibility of caring for Marlene’s younger sister of four, Alida is under a great deal of stress. She is however, very excited (and nervous) about her daughter’s reconstructive surgery that will be the first of more to come. Alida is thankful that Marlene’s surgery is taking place this month, as she will be attending school for the very first time next year.

Mondrisha, a sweet 1-year-old girl, was born full-term, with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. She was attended to by the paediatricians and the speech therapists at Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, who greatly assisted her mother, Monalisa, by teaching her how to feed her child properly. From there, the family was referred to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital, where Mondrisha will undergo a three-hour operation during which her cleft lip and palate will be repaired. Monalisa is unemployed and has another child to care for. Even with the financial and emotional strain she faces daily, she is extremely positive about Mondrisha’s surgery and looks forward to seeing her little girl’s ‘new smile’.

Born premature at 29 weeks, due to fetal compromise, little Katlego is now 2 years of age. The treatment she received for her fragile condition at birth, caused her to develop constriction of her one nostril. An obstructed nasal passageway affects a child’s sleep quality which in turn, has a negative impact on their health. It also creates difficulty during nursing and feeding and affects facial development in childhood. Katlego will undergo her first surgery during Smile Week, where surgeons will repair her nasal deformity. Her mom, Emma, who also cares for Katlego’s 16-year-old brother, has been through some difficult times having to attend to a premature baby. She is grateful that Katlego’s reconstructive surgery will give her little girl the chance to live a happier life.

“Our faces are our most valued tools of expression. Children with facial limitations do not only experience physical difficulties, they are faced with the emotional trauma that surrounds being perceived as different by other children, and feeling disconnected from the world around them. Through our commitment to support the rights and fulfil the needs of previously disadvantaged children, Smile Foundation strives to offer every child the chance to overcome their difficulties through disfigurement and to enjoy their childhood.” concludes Kim Robertson Smith. 

Sources: Smile Foundation – Supplied
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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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