We transform the lives of children affected by facial abnormalities and severe burns through the best possible surgical and psychological care.
We’re small but mighty.
Our team might be small but what we achieve together is as big as it gets. We’re like an army of Davids (yes … as in David and Goliath). We’re potent, champions of equity and each other. Don’t misconstrue our good natures for being pushovers.
We don’t compromise. Ever.
We may be a NPO, but that doesn’t mean we let others determine the ceiling of our vision or impact. For us, the bar is high. We’re proud, bold and unapologetic for the way we show up. Everything we do is done with the utmost care, compassion and consideration.
Our duty is to care.
We fight to help every child that needs us. No matter the perceived limitation of our resources. We’ve been at this a long time and we know how to equip families so they succeed in the long journey to recovery. We’ve spent decades ensuring the process is paved with empathy and professionalism.
Excellence is a non-negotiable.
We strive for excellence not just in the care we provide but in the partnerships we build. We go out of our way to ensure every donor is met with an experience that makes them feel “we would do this again”.
One call from Madiba changed everything.
Thabile Malambo Manyathi persistently wrote to Nelson Mandela asking for help to take her child Thando (pictured) overseas to receive a highly specialized procedure to correct the Facial Paralysis she was born with. As fate would have it, Thabile’s plea found its way into Madiba’s personal pile of letters. After reading her letter, Mandela reached out to Marc Lubner and asked if he could help secure surgery for the young child.
Inspired by Thando’s story, the Lubner family decided to instead invite Dr Ron Zucker and Dr Craig Van Der Kolk to South Africa to transfer their skills and expertise to a number of surgeons in the country. George Psaras, former Head of Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Witwatersrand, was the first surgeon in South Africa to learn this specialized skill.
After more surgeons in South Africa became equipped with the skills to operate on children with facial abnormalities, the Independent Newspaper group joined forces with the Lubner family to found the Star Smile Fund. With more and more happy endings, the news of the Star Smile Fund spread far and wide, and the demand began to outgrow the supply. So, in 2007, we expanded our resources and relaunched as the Smile Foundation.
Since then, the Smile Foundation has helped provide Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to more than 4000 children living with facial abnormalities. For us and the children we care for, joy is always possible.