Surgical Programme

Please help us keep a promise we made to Ntlelo’s mom


When her baby was born with a cleft lip and palate, Mhlamunye was shocked and heartbroken

“I had never seen or heard of such a thing before,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. I was a laughing stock in my community, and that really hurt.”

She took little Ntlelo back to the hospital with high hopes. But help was not immediately available. And as time passed and her baby grew, Mhlamunye lost hope.

Until last year, when she heard

that Operation Smile

was coming to Mthatha! 

Mhlamunye was determined to make the journey from her home in Lusikisiki … over 100 km away … to get help for her 2-year-old little girl.

And little Ntlelo was one of 24 children and adults who was given a brand new smile that weekend. We also promised her she could return the following year for surgery to repair her cleft palate.

Although it’s not immediately apparent, a cleft palate (an opening in the roof of the mouth) is a serious condition.

As well as making feeding difficult, which can cause malnutrition, an unrepaired cleft palate affects proper speech development.  The longer the cleft palate remains unrepaired the harder it is to correct a child’s speech.

That’s why it’s so important

for Ntlelo to have the surgery now.

But she is just one of many children and adults with cleft conditions eagerly waiting for our team to return to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha this October. We’ve promised to help as many of them as we can.

And that’s where your support makes all the difference.

Because, even though our volunteer doctors,

nurses and dentists give freely of their time,

we have to provide all the supplies

and equipment they need.

Drugs, scalpels, swabs, needles and sutures, IV packs, dressings, masks, gloves and scrubs. If you’ve ever had an operation, you’ll know how these items add up!

Plus there are all the costs of getting our patients to and from Mthatha and taking care of all their needs. Not only while they undergo surgery, but also for a week afterwards, so we can carefully support their recovery and healing.

You see, our patients are mostly from rural areas with few resources and even less money. That’s why Operation Smile  provides safe, world class surgery free of charge to those in need.

But we would not be able to offer it, if not for caring and generous supporters like you!

Donate now

Please will you be part of our upcoming surgical programme in Mthata this October, by making a donation of any amount towards surgical costs?

You’ll be there in spirit with our team at the hospital when little Ntlelo gets the surgery she so desperately needs to live a normal, happy life.

And every time she smiles and laughs, it will be because you cared enough to reach out and touch her life.


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