A child with a deformity suffers. The butt of teasing and taunting from other children, the afflicted child is usually ostracised, isolated, lonely, self-conscious and depressed.


His family suffers along with the child.


A child with a cleft lip and palate suffers terribly. His deformity is literally “in your face”. He battles to eat, to breathe, to speak and one in ten children born with this facial deformity dies from malnutrition. The milk he tries to suckle from his mom comes out through his nose.


In some African cultures, he is called “a child of the water-god” – and drowned.


On Monday evening a fundraising event was hosted in the Fish Hoek Civic Centre by Viv and Kim of the Scenic South in aid of Operation Smile, an organisation that provides free reconstructive surgery to children around the world who suffer from facial deformities. Guest speaker was adventurer Braam Malherbe of 50/50 fame who has undertaken two extreme expeditions in aid of Operation Smile. Also speaking was a beautiful young woman, Carla van Zijl, who spoke of the trauma she has experienced having been born with a cleft palate and a cleft lip, describing the financial, emotional and physical difficulties that she and her single “supermom”, Cheryl, have had to overcome as she underwent five operations, braces, speech therapy….and the emotional traumas mentioned above.


Despite this all, Carla is one of the lucky ones. Approximately one in 750 babies in Africa is born with either a cleft palate or lip, and most face a dire future. Operation Smile with your help can help some of them.


Since 2006 Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA) has treated over 1650 children, both within South Africa and in countries such as the DRC, Madagascar and Rwanda. To reconstruct a child’s face costs in the region of R5500, with doctors and other staff giving their time for free.


On Monday night R4100 was raised. It is a great pity that a speaker of the calibre of Braam Malherbe was not able to draw more of a crowd from our valley, enabling at least one child to have a new and brighter future.  Those who did not attend truly missed out.


Apart from the inspiring words of Braam, his photographs of his and David Grier’s epic run along the Great Wall of China, of the pair’s run along the entire length of the coastline of South Africa and of his and Peter van Kets ‘s 768km unassisted ski-race to the South Pole in December 2011/January 2012 were fascinating and introduced us to experiences that the majority of us will never have.


“We thought the speakers were captivating and gave an excellent insight into the work done by Operation Smile. Braam and Carla’s testimonies showing  their courage and perseverance were inspirational!” remarks Brenda Filmater.


The Beguin family from Pretoria wrote: …”We hope that next time … there will …greater support from the people, and especially the schools, of Fish Hoek and surrounds. Opportunities to hear humble yet strong leaders like these are what young people need so that they are inspired to start and never stop dreaming of what it is possible for them to achieve for both themselves and the greater good.”


Braam encouraged us all to DO ONE THING (DOT) to make a positive difference for our planet and to have something to leave our children to smile about. Would it not be wonderful to know that we as a community have enabled at least one child to face a bright new future with hope and acceptance and joy? We have a R1400 shortfall and call on you to add whatever amount you would like to make this wish  a reality. The banking details of Operation Smile are:



Electronic transfer (for all banks except Nedbank account holders*)

Bank: Nedbank Corporate Saver (NBS)

Branch code: 720026

Account no: 9012644654

Account name: Operation Smile South Africa

Reference: Name of depositor/ reason for deposit (Please put your name and ‘Scenic South’)


Operation Smile is a global non-profit, volunteer medical services organisation which provides free reconstructive surgery to children and adults with cleft lips and/or cleft palates in over 60 countries worldwide. Operation Smile has offered, to date, over 200,000 life changing procedures around the world.

Operation Smile is dedicated to the sustainable development of local medical infrastructure to ensure that even more children are able to access high quality treatment, locally and when they need it. Operation Smile provides on-site training during medical missions; separate training courses both at our partner hospitals and for more rural clinicians as well as ongoing multidisciplinary rotations in selected hospitals.



See also