Life-changing surgeries for children during Bloemfontein’s Smile Week

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Mataele and Mabokoane Taele with their daughter, Amohelang. Photo: Molebogeng Malebo

Smile Week is an initiative by the Smile Foundation which teams up with the country’s academic hospitals and various donors to change the lives of young ones living with facial conditions. 22 children will be getting corrective facial reconstructive surgery and treatment at the Universitas Academic Hospital throughout the week.

Bloemfontein Courant spoke to Smile Foundation’s operations executive director, Moira Gerszt, who explained what Smile Week is all about.

22 children will be getting corrective facial reconstructive surgery and treatment at the Universitas Academic Hospital throughout the week. Photo: Molebogeng Malebo

“It’s always a pleasure to be in Bloemfontein for Smile Week. These children are having life-changing surgeries. It’s a very cheerful week, because the children get to see balloons and there is some entertainment for them. The parents also get support from a clinical psychologist as well as a dietician,” said Gerszt.

Parents Mataele and Mabokoane Taele shared their experiences regarding their daughter Amohelang, which included complications during pregnancy and an extended hospital stay.

“After she was born, she was in ICU for 7 days and had to stay in hospital for 5 months on oxygen full time and her mother had to stay with her during those months.” said father Mabokoane Taele.

“It was not easy, because when you are a first-time parent you have certain expectations. I thought I was going to go home after having her, but I couldn’t due to the complications. It was hard seeing some of my friends go home after giving birth,” her mother, Mataele, expressed.

Selina Raboteng and her daughter, Ayanda.
Photo: Molebogeng Malebo

Selina Raboteng shared her thoughts as her daughter, Ayanda, was about to go into surgery for the removal of a growth on her ear. “It has been a long journey. We first came to the hospital about two years back. I am a bit scared, but I will be really happy if everything goes well,” she said.

The Smile Foundation aims to make a positive change to these children’s lives. – Molebogeng Malebo
molebogeng@centralmediagroup.co.za