The idea was to collect 100 teddies for this cause, however at the beginning of the year (2021), PE Pearls Ladies Circle No. 19 received close on 800 stuffed toys thanks to Cambridge Academy and Witbank Ladies Circle No. 26, allowing us to exceed this quota.

Sonel made quick and steady work with the use of her mad sewing skills, sewing cleft scars onto stuffed toys for donation to Cleft Friends.   These scarred teddies are distributed to hospitals and to support moms in various places in South Africa; where they are given to children that have undergone an operation for cleft lip and palate.

Some of our cleft teddies have already been distributed to the East London Smile Week, as well as to some of the new moms with babies born at Dora Nginza Hospital during the Lockdown.  A whole bunch was sent through to support moms so that as soon as they get referrals, they can hand them out as they go.

Due to the situation with Covid, and different regulations set out by the hospitals, not all of the cleft teddies have been able to be distributed to all of the hospitals by Cleft Friends or their support moms as yet, however teddies are lined up and ready for when access is granted.

Positive feedback has been received from the parents that have received teddies, they are excited about this concept and the drive.

We have to date donated over half of the teddies to Cleft Friends, and after donating the last batch (102 teddies) on 16 September 2021, we were asked by Helena Cullis, National Co-ordinator for Cleft Friends & Programme Manager for Smile Foundation, to consider using some of the teddies that we had left to make “burn survivor” teddies.  Sonel has stitched examples of burn victim teddies and sent them for approval.

The Smile Foundation is a South African based Non-Profit Organization that helps children with facial abnormalities, for example Cleft Lip and Palate, burn survivors, Moebius syndrome (facial paralysis) amongst others; to receive corrective Plastic and Reconstructive surgery.  For more information please go to https://smilefoundationsa.org/

Cleft Friends is a project of the Smile Foundation, represented by support parents or volunteers who have children, or they themselves, born with Cleft Lip and Palate.  Representatives in all Provinces throughout South Africa undergo Cleft Friends Training, facilitated by a Counselling Psychologist, allowing them to offer support to parents faced with the same journey as their own.  For more information please go to http://www.cleftfriends.co.za/