The Smile Foundation is celebrating Smile Week by offering children life-changing reconstructive operations to put a smile on their faces. The foundation partnered with Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, to give 20 little ones the gift to smile. During Smile Week, the foundation moves into a chosen hospital where surgeons operate on underprivileged children born with facial anomalies, easing the backlog off the public health system.
We help children live a life inspired by confidence and possibility, No matter their circumstances. We transform the lives of children affected by facial abnormalities and severe burns through the best possible surgical and psychological care.
Thabile Malambo Manyathi persistently wrote to Nelson Mandela asking for help to take her child Thando (pictured) overseas to receive a highly specialized procedure to correct the Facial Paralysis she was born with. As fate would have it, Thabile’s plea found its way into Madiba’s personal pile of letters. After reading her letter, Mandela reached out to Marc Lubner and asked if he could help secure surgery for the young child.
Inspired by Thando’s story, the Lubner family decided to instead invite Dr Ron Zucker and Dr Craig Van Der Kolk to South Africa to transfer their skills and expertise, to a number of surgeons in the country.
George Psaras, former Head of Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Witwatersrand, was the first surgeon in South Africa to learn this specialized skill.
After more surgeons in South Africa became equipped with the skills to operate on children with facial abnormalities, the Independent Newspaper group joined forces with the Lubner family to found the Star Smile Fund. With more and more happy endings, the news of the Star Smile Fund spread far and wide, and the demand began to outgrow the supply. So, in 2007, we expanded our resources and relaunched as the Smile Foundation.
Since then, the Smile Foundation has helped provide Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to more than 4000 children living with facial abnormalities. For us and the children we care for, joy is always possible.