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Mon 6 May 2024
ACSA Proud to Support Smile Week at Frere Hospital in East London This Month.

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is proud to announce that it is sponsoring the Smile Foundation's life-changing initiative Smile Week at Frere Hospital, in East London in the Eastern Cape, this week.

Smile Week is geared to help bridge the gap between young patients whose families cannot otherwise afford specialised operations and the medical specialists who can assist them.

During Smile Week, approximately 25 children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds will undergo life-changing corrective surgery. Most of these procedures involve cleft lip and cleft palate repair.

Of the children undergoing surgery is Zisuncumo (whose name means Bring a Smile), an eighteen-month-old boy from Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape, who was born with a cleft lip and palate. Last year during Smile Week, Zisuncumo underwent the first phase of his corrective surgery, repairing the skin and muscles of his lip, so that he can have better use of them and be able to communicate. The second phase of his surgery which will take place this week involves repair work to his palate. Zisuncumo will be given the chance to live a normal, happy life.

It is important to highlight that children born with such conditions are not only stigmatised throughout their lives because of their physical differences, they also encounter difficulties with breathing and eating, and may also face problems with speech development and other challenges.

ACSA's long-standing partnership with the Smile Foundation began in May 2011 as part of the company's mandate to align its corporate social investment initiatives with sector-specific health issues.

"We are delighted to once again team up with the Smile Foundation to sponsor Smile Week during which surgeons, their surgical teams and other medical professionals come together to perform reconstructive surgery on children with facial abnormalities and burn scars as well as ear, nose and hand conditions," says Ms Nicola Smith, Local Airport Manager at King Phalo Airport in East London.

Some prevailing challenges in Buffalo City Municipality include its rural, under resourced, and general necessitous state of living for local residents, which has led to limited access to adequate medical facilities and quality healthcare services. Currently, Frere Hospital faces a shortage of plastic surgeons, causing a backlog of patients needing reconstructive procedures. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive assistance only during the annual Smile Week, a partnership initiated in 2022 between the Smile Foundation and Frere Hospital.

"As ACSA, we are truly honoured that our support for the Smile Foundation helps towards improving the physical appearance and the psychological well-being of children who ordinarily would be excluded from such interventions due to financial challenges," says Smith.

During Smile Week, Dr Chris van der Walt, who heads up the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital and his dedicated surgical team will travel to Frere Hospital to perform these critical surgeries.

"All children should be able to feel loved and understood growing up. Sadly, there are still many who due to facial anomalies or burn injuries and a lack of financial resources, will never fully experience the freedom and joy that acceptance brings. But things are changing for the better and through the selfless dedication of the surgeons and medical support teams, the generosity of our incredible sponsor ACSA, and everyone who has ever offered their time and talent throughout Smile Weeks, together we are able to help more underprivileged children, get the surgery they need to live brighter, more fulfilling lives," concludes Tarri Parfitt, CEO of Smile Foundation.