support group

You’re not alone

Cleft Friends is the only organisation in South Africa made up of parents of children with cleft lip and/or palate. Speaking from experience, they encourage new parents to celebrate their babies and seek help from the medical professionals available through Smile Foundation.

You’re in expert care

The day Heléna’s son was born and diagnosed with a cleft palate changed her life. She had no idea what a cleft lip and palate was, and as she progressed on *the cleft journey she realised this is common of most people. She was overwhelmed and it took time to process what the diagnosis meant and what the future held for her baby boy, Joel. She had to grieve for the idea she had about her first child and she had to embrace the reality that involved her new born needing plastic surgery when he was 6 months old and having to feed him with a special needs bottle. She realised that other parents were experiencing similar emotions and co-founded a South African cleft lip and palate parent support group called Cleft Friends. Through her work in Cleft Friends her team and her have helped more than 1,000 parents and children affected by cleft, trained 70 volunteer support parents and peers, pioneered an innovative and sustainable model nationally and compiled a parent guide that details *the cleft journey from a parents perspective.

who can join?

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.

To find out more about Cleft Friends and how to connect with our parents and peer support groups Contact our Programme Manager, TK on 067 870 0631 or email