Cleft Friends is the only organisation in South Africa that does what it does…offering support to parents from the perspective of a lived experience rather than the expert view that other NGOs often approach helping. We are mothers who speak only from experience. We encourage new moms to celebrate their babies as a baby first by bonding with them through skin to skin contact, kissing and cuddling them and affirming them in every way possible. After this we tackle the challenges faced with *the cleft journey. We take the time to listen, and then empower moms to ask the medical professionals specific questions that will alleviate any anxiety or clear any misunderstanding of information about their child’s diagnosis. Our strength is attributed to the support of medical professionals both in private and government hospitals, who regularly refer patients to us. 

VISION: Cleft Friends improves lives by empowering, advocating & educating all South African’s affected by cleft lip and palate

Who Can become a member?

Cleft Friends membership is for anyone affected by cleft lip and palate in South Africa, this could be:

Meet the Team

The Cleft Friends support team is empowered by Counselling Psychologist Lynette Dean as well as Trauma Councillor and Smile Friends Coordinator Kereeditswe Mankaye. Our very own Sylvia Mchunu has an inspirational story of courage and hope in the face of adversity. Sylvia wants to give back to all South Africans affected by cleft lip and palate by supporting them on their journey to healing and recovery.


Sylvia Mchunu from Gauteng is a lead support mom for Cleft Friends a project of Smile Foundation. Her daughter, Princess, was born with a cleft lip and palate in 2013 and has undergone 4 surgeries and continues with speech therapy.

Sylvia has signed up to be on all 15 Support Whatsapp Groups across the country that support approx. 400 families on a day to day basis. This is an amazing opportunity for our members as well as Sylvia who continues to advocate for cleft lip and palate treatment in South Africa from a parents perspective. Sylvia also works for Smile Foundation head office as a regional coordinator and has access to resources and tools to empower cleft families.

Feel free to contact Sylvia directly on 063 060 4248.

The first days after giving birth to a child with a cleft lip and/or palate is usually a rollercoaster of emotions and worry.

How can Cleft Friends offer support to a new parent?

To benefit from all that Cleft Friends offers simply complete the membership form provided by a Cleft Friends support mom or click on the “join” page on our website:

There is no cost to be- coming a member of Cleft Friends, all you have to do is complete the form and you will be added to the growing cleft community in South Africa.