Volunteer team at the recent surgical programme that took place at the Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela.
In the sixteen years since Operation Smile South Africa was established, we’ve gathered together a team of 120 active volunteers. These selfless people from all walks of life are the foundation of our work.
Each member of the team fulfils an important role in ensuring a successful surgical programme. Everyone is important and hugely appreciated – from the specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeons and other top medical professionals to the volunteers who help with admin and interact with patients and their families during the screening process.
It’s impossible to single anyone out, because everyone relies on everyone else working together to deliver our first-class programme of care and safe surgery.
What volunteers say
“It is such an honour to be a part of this initiative,” says volunteer dentist Jasantha Gounden. “I enjoy every second. If I could, I would never return from a surgical programme – that is how fulfilling it is to me.
“During my last programme, there was one child in particular who touched my heart. He had an impaired foot – but boy, oh boy, can he run and kick a ball! We had an absolute blast playing soccer together prior to screening.
“I always say that when people gather for the same cause, you’re bound to attract a bunch of like-minded individuals. This group was absolutely extraordinary; we gelled together really well.”
It’s like being part of a big family
Speech therapist, Erika Bostok, has been on countless surgical programmes, both in South Africa and further afield. She describes the experience as “being part of a big family”.
“I feel valued, appreciated and welcomed,” she added.
“Being able to make a difference, both in the individual patients’ lives, and more strategically, in how Operation Smile functions, is very rewarding. And I have met the most incredible fellow volunteers and staff, who enrich my life no end!
“Some have become lifelong friends whom I would never have met otherwise. I also love seeing different parts of the world and their health systems through the eyes of the patients and the hospitals in which we work.”