Welcome to Cleft Friends


Cleft friends is a project of Smile Foundation.

It is the only organisation in South Africa that offers support to parents from the perspective of a ‘lived experience’ rather than the expert view that we can get from the medical fraternity. 

We are parents who speak only from experience. We encourage new parents to celebrate, love and affirm their babies in every way possible. This is essential throughout the Cleft Journey.

We encourage parents to ask medical personnel specific questions that have been proven to help alleviate anxiety and provide clarity regarding their child’s diagnosis.


Our mission is to transform lives by empowering and educating all South Africans affected by cleft lip and cleft palate.

Discover the Heart Behind Cleft friends

The birth of Heléna and Matthew’s son, diagnosed with a cleft palate, transformed their lives. Unfamiliar with the condition, they felt overwhelmed and worried for Joel’s future. Grieving their initial dreams, they embraced the reality of surgery and special feeding needs. Finding solace in shared experiences, they co-founded Cleft Friends with Madge Blignaut, offering support to over 3,000 families.

Become a Part of Our Community

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

  1. A parent/guardian of a child with a cleft lip and/or palate.
  2. Anyone who was born with a cleft lip and/or palate.
  3. A health professional.
  4. Anyone with some other personal connection to cleft e.g. grandparent, sibling, teacher, friend of someone with a cleft lip and palate
  5. Anyone who would like to sign up for our newsletter, help raise funds for our cause and/or attend our awareness events.

There is no cost to becoming a member of Cleft Friends, all you have to do is complete the form below.

Membership Form

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About You


WhatsApp/Phone at 067 870 0631