Air Peace

Smile Foundation partnered with Vodacom to make South African Children smile


The magic of reconstructive surgery is giving a new lease of life to South African children born with facial deformities that made them the bout daily jokes from thoughtless classmates and friends.

One of them had constantly been teased as having “a nose like a pig’s”

Now, however, 27 such children have benefited from the expertise of plastic surgeons in Bloemfontein.

Performed at Bloemfontein’s Universitas Academic Hospital, the surgeries were aimed at making the children “normal” again.

For Brenda Ernst, mother to Puane, 11, the taunts left both her daughter and herself heartbroken. Having been conceived a twin, Puane’s nose was left flat by the splitting of cells after fertilization took place.

“She has been called names … other children said she had a nose like a pig’s, and that hurt me a lot. I am glad though that with this operation, she will look good again.”

However, the work on most of the children is not yet complete as they still have to go for more surgery. In Puane’s case, she will continue seeing doctors until she is in her late teens.

Mr. Moira Gerzt, the operations executive director at Smile Foundation which partnered with cellphone operator Vodacom to pay for surgeries, accommodation for parents, transportation and other necessities, said as the children grew, more operations would be needed because their physical structure would change.

On his part, Mr. Tshepo Ramodibe, the executive head of corporate affairs at Vodacom, which has funded the operations for the past 14 years, said they intended assisting needy children for years to come.

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