Photo Credit: The Smile Foundation - Supplied

20 children were helped this past World Children’s Day at the revamped Burns Unit of the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital.


South Africa (24 November 2022) – Every year, World Children’s Day is celebrated on 20 November. On this special day, we are all given the opportunity to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights across the globe, with the intention of building a better world for our young people and their tomorrow. This World Children’s Day was themed: Equality and Inclusion, for every child. With Smile Week commencing the very next day, this sentiment is quite fitting for the life- changing initiative that is geared to help make all children feel worthy, accepted and loved.

This Smile Week marked the first of many to take place at the recently revamped Burns Unit of RMSH. Spearheading the revamp that is now in its third and final phase, is the hospital’s Head of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery & Burns, Dr. Maria Giaquinto-Cilliers. Having published in peer-reviewed journals and written extensively on the subject, Dr Maria’s interest in burn injuries extends as far back as the 90s, when she practiced in Burn Centres in Brazil and was the private referral plastic surgeon for burn survivors in Rio de Janeiro until 2004.

With the intention of meeting more of the medical needs for the treatment of burns in children of the surrounding areas, Dr Maria, through her collaboration with Smile Foundation, has played an integral part in giving young burn survivors a healing sanctuary in the form of a state-of-the-art paediatric section at RMSH.

Of the children undergoing life-changing surgery during this Smile Week, we meet Collin. Collin, a little boy of just four years old, accidently fell against a household stove on which a pot of water was rapidly boiling. Gushing over his defenceless little body, the hot water caused excruciatingly painful burns to Collin’s arms, upper body and back.

This Smile Week, Collin will be undergoing the Meek Micrografting procedure, which is effective in the surgical management of deep burns in extensive thermal injuries with limited donor site availability and enables larger burn areas to be covered. Collin’s mother, Precious, is ever grateful that her son will be undergoing the corrective surgery he desperately needs and her wish is to take her little boy home for Christmas.

“A child living with a physical anomaly, does not only experience functional difficulties, they carry the emotional pain of being seen as odd by others, which inevitably causes them to feel excluded from the world around them. This World Children’s Day and beyond, Smile Foundation continues to strive to offer every child the chance to overcome their difficulties through disfigurement, to feel included and to enjoy their younger years.”

Dr. Maria Giaquinto-Cilliers is a dynamic and passionate individual who will stop at nothing to help those in need of reconstructive surgery. Her devotion and spirit are both awe- inspiring. We are grateful to Dr Maria and her remarkable team, the hospital staff at RMSH and our incredible donors who have all played their part in transforming children’s lives, so they can ultimately grow into secure, healthy adults who contribute to society,” concludes Kim Robertson-Smith, CEO of Smile Foundation.

Coordinated by Smile Foundation, Smile Week is a full working week, during which surgeons, their assisting surgical teams, other medical professionals and hospital staff open their hearts and clear their schedules to perform reconstructive surgery on disadvantaged children suffering from physical anomalies and the emotional pain of such conditions. To pledge your support for this initiative, click here.

Sources: The Smile Foundation – Supplied
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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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