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Parent & Peer Support Groups

Parent and peer support groups provide like-minded communities the opportunity to meet others affected by the same condition or injury. They are not alone on their journey to recovery and beyond. At Smile Foundation we have established two parent and peer support groups i.e. Cleft Friends and U matter.

  • Who? Cleft Friends a project of Smile Foundation. We are a parent and peer support group for families affected by cleft lip and palate.
  • What?  We aim to improve lives daily by empowering, advocating and educating all South Africans affected by cleft lip and palate.
  • Where? Nationally
  • When? Cleft Friends connects with families soon as possible after birth and is available throughout the cleft journey. We also have a Whatsapp group that is aimed at adults and teens who were born with a cleft.
  • Why?
    “A baby’s face develops during the early stage of pregnancy at about 9 weeks. The upper lip is made up from four parts, as is the palate. When these parts do not join, clefts (gaps) form. There are no parts missing. There is still no proper explanation for clefts forming, except where there is a family history of clefts. Often, the cause of a cleft is a mystery. However, the plastic surgeon might be able to give you some idea of why it happened to your baby.” Cleft Lip and Palate Parent Guide Copyright © 2017 Smile Foundation The incidence of clefts is as follows:
    Cleft lip and palate (most common in males):
    • Africans 1 in 2000
    • Caucasions 1 in 1000
    • Asians 1 in 500
    Isolated cleft palate (more common in females):
    • 1 in 2000 for all race groupsThe first few days after giving birth to a child with a cleft lip and/or palate is usually a rollercoaster of emotions and worry. There is a need to connect with parents during this time so that they know they are not alone and that there are others in their community who face similar challenges.
  • How?  Face-to-face support from a trained parent who understands the emotions experienced by a new parent affected by cleft lip and palate. Psychological Support with a medical professional. Hospitals and clinics often refer patients to us and we remain in contact with them after they have been discharged via Whatsapp groups, Facebook groups, Zoom virtual support groups and webinars.
  • You can make a difference by donating a special feeding baby bottle to a family in need for R120.

“If the baby has a cleft lip only, little if any effect occurs during feeding. Babies born with a cleft palate however frequently have problems with feeding because the mouth is not separated from the nose. As a result, the baby cannot create the suction in the mouth that is needed to suck from the breast or bottle.”  Georgia Jammine Speech-Language Therapist 

  • Who? U matter is a parent and peer support group for burn survivors in South Africa. U matter is a project of Smile Foundation and Avela Foundation.
  • What? U matter creates positive experiences to build self-esteem, inspire dreams and ignite possibilities among burn survivors. Using storytelling as a tool to help families heal.
  • Where? Nationally
  • When? U matter connects with families as soon as possible after a burn injury and is available throughout a burn survivor’s journey to recovery. We also have a Whatsapp group that is aimed at adults and teens who are burn survivors.  
  • Why? In South Africa 256 children suffer burns injuries every day. The trauma of burn injuries can leave families feeling helpless and alone. The first few days after burn trauma is usually a rollercoaster of emotions and worry before reality sinks in.  There is a need to connect with parents during this time so that they know they are not alone and that there are others in their community who face similar challenges.
  • How?  Face-to-face support from a trained parent who understands the emotions experienced by a parent whose child is affected by a burn injury. Psychological Support with a medical professional. Hospitals and clinics often refer patients to us and we remain in contact with them after they have been discharged via Whatsapp groups, Facebook groups, Zoom virtual support groups and webinars. Burns Prevention Campaigns and Awareness.
  • You can make a difference by donating a wonder bag to a family in need for R250. (See pic attached). A Wonder Bag is a stand-alone, non-electric insulated bag designed to reduce the amount of fuel required in the cooking of food in developing countries