Skip to main content

Smile Club partners with Operation Smile

Smile Club will make a monthly donation to Operation Smile South Africa for every Active Aligners case distributed in that month. Every donation received by Operation Smile will be put towards providing safe surgery and comprehensive care for children with cleft conditions.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Smile Club and enormously grateful for their generous support which we expect will be over R100 000 per annum.”

Sarah Scarth, Executive Director for Operation Smile South Africa

Every 3 Minutes, somewhere in the world a child is born with a cleft condition.

Operation Smile South Africa is part of a global, volunteer-based medical charity that provides free surgery to repair cleft conditions. Since being founded in America in 1982, the organisation has spread to 60 countries and provided more than 300 000 free surgeries.

Yet the need remains, especially in Africa, where so many children would otherwise not receive the surgery and care they need.

In first world countries, corrective surgery is usually done within the first 18 months of life. But in Southern Africa, where safe surgery is not always freely available or accessible, a child may have to wait years for the chance to live a normal life.

Giving Smiles, Transforming Lives

A Global Family with a Shared Vision

With more than 6,000 active medical volunteers from all around the world, Operation Smile is one of the world’s largest volunteer-based nonprofit organisations. Supporters are people from all walks of life, who believe that anyone born with a cleft condition deserves safe, effective, and timely surgery and care.

We dream of a world where no child suffers from lack of access to safe surgery. As long as there are children in the world who need our help, we’ll do whatever it takes to give them the quality care they deserve.

Support Operation Smile South Africa

Add Impact to Your Inbox

Sign up to receive heart-warming stories, in-depth news and the most recent updates from the Operation Smile programmes.

Alternatively, you can find out more about becoming a volunteer, or make a donation directly to Operation Smile South Africa.

Life Transforming Stories Made Possible

“Looking at this change and the ability to mingle with people, to go everywhere that I want to go, everyone accepting me, I see a bright future. Now, when I take a cup and fetch water and drink, people use that same cup. It means that I’m accepted by all.”


“When I fetched water with a cup to drink, no one wanted to use the same cup as me,” Faustina said. “So, there was no way that it could cross my mind that the future would look bright.”

For 17 years, Faustina endured the pain and isolation that often come with living with an untreated cleft lip. She always had dreams for her future, but Faustina feared that her cleft condition would prevent her from achieving them.

Today, with free surgery from Operation Smile, Faustina is living out her dreams as a seamstress and has transformed into an outgoing and kind young woman.


Tiyamjane has already overcome so many struggles. Both of her parents died when she was young and she lived with the stigma and isolation of her cleft lip until she was 18. She didn’t know there were others like her in the world and she never imagined she’d one day have a brand new smile.

Tiyamjane’s world changed when her friend had a baby with a cleft lip & then found out about Operation Smile.

“I am always happy now,” Tiyamjane explained when Operation Smile Malawi volunteers visited her village a few months after her surgery. “Thank you for everything you did for me. Please continue to help other like you helped me.”

“When I arrived at the hospital, I was very happy to see that it is not only my child with a cleft. My child was the only one with a cleft in my community. But I’ve learned that there are other children in other parts of the province with the same condition. I am so grateful to Operation Smile and hope they will continue to support patients with clefts and create more awareness in our community.”

Surgical Programme brings hope and healing

Preparing for a surgical programme takes a huge amount of work. Everything complies to Operation Smile’s global medical standards. This ensures that, wherever in the world the surgery takes place, it is to the highest standards with patient safety the top priority.

The impact of a surgical programme is not just measured in lives transformed through surgery. We also helped heal mothers’ hearts. Two year old Melokuhle Mredlana was born during Covid with a unilateral cleft lip and palate. But mother, Anele, received little support at the time. “When my baby was born, the doctors and nurses did not say anything to me,” explained Anele. “I left the hospital without any knowledge. I was sad and could not understand what was happening to the baby. Watching milk coming out of his nose during feeding was a traumatic experience.”

Akosua Manu

For Akosua and many people in her local community, the terms cleft lip and cleft palate were unfamiliar. The idea of cleft surgery was even more unknown. The bullying became so severe that she stopped attending school in second grade. However, leaving school didn’t stop the hurtful name-calling from continuing into her adult life. She never let the pain or hopelessness prevent her from creating happy memories. Akosua got married and had three children who supported her through the seemingly endless cycle of abuse.

In March 2015, Akosua learned that the reason her smile was different was that she was born with a cleft lip. In that moment, she not only discovered that the cause of her sadness and mistreatment was something completely outside her control, but also that there was an organization dedicated to providing free, life-changing cleft repair surgeries for people like herself. Accompanied by her brother, Charles, Akosua made the 10-hour journey by bus to a surgical program in Ho. Charles expressed his sadness toward the suffering his sister experienced throughout her life, but he was overjoyed to witness her get an opportunity for a new beginning.

Following her comprehensive health evaluation, medical volunteers placed Akosua on the surgical schedule. Akosua couldn’t believe that it was her own smile she saw as she glanced at her reflection in a mirror after surgery. “Now, I am confident, always happy and love having my photo taken,” she said.

“I was never a happy woman,” Akosua said. “I never wanted my photo taken.” Despite not knowing the name of her condition, Akosua knew that the mistreatment and judgment she endured were because she didn’t have the same smile as everyone else. It wasn’t until she was 52 years old that she learned more about her condition.