One in every 750 children in Africa is born with a cleft palate or lip, and one in 10 babies born with this condition does not make it to their first birthday.
These are Operation Smile stats as conveyed by David Grier, a South African adventurer and philanthropist speaking at the Cipla Miles for Smiles Foundation auction held recently in Cape Town, following his three-month 4 008 km run covering the length of India in aid of generating awareness for Operation Smile.
The auction - which included memorabilia from Grier's trip, such as the South African flag he carried with him and a cricket bat personally made for him in Kashmir - raised over R90 000 for the Cipla Miles for Smiles foundation, which was formed to assist Operation Smile in creating awareness for the plight of children born with cleft lips and palates, as well as raise funds to perform corrective surgery on them.
In addition to the money collected from the auction, Cipla Medpro, handed a cheque of R1million to Operation Smile on the night, raised through various fundraising projects and donations to the Miles for Smiles initiative. One cleft palate surgery costs approximately R5 500, which means that the proceeds have the potential to provide 195 children with corrective surgery.
"Children with facial deformities who do not receive reconstructive surgery have difficulty breathing, drinking, eating and speaking. As a result, many children's quality of life suffers, as they deal with malnutrition, medical and psychological problems.
"We are honoured to be part of David's journey to raise awareness for this worthy cause, which is in line with our philosophy of making the lives of those born with this condition, better," says Jerome Smith, Cipla Medpro CEO.
Following his successful run in India, Grier next sets off to run the length of the United Kingdom later this month. By doing the near-impossible, Grier hopes to show people that making a difference is possible by stepping out of one's comfort zone.
"As an individual you are nothing, it is the people around you who make you what you are," concludes Grier.