The new Operation Smile bracelet has just been launched, which means you are now able to make an impact on the world, one smile at a time and support the transformation of the life of a child born with cleft palate, giving them the chance for a normal, healthy and productive future.

Cleft palate is the fourth most common birth defect in the world, after heart defects, Down Syndrome and spina bifida. Children with facial deformities who do not receive reconstructive surgery often have difficulty breathing, drinking, eating and speaking, and often suffer from malnutrition and medical and psychological problems as a result. Untreated clefts often cause hearing loss, too. However, cleft palates are operable, and a 45-minute cleft operation, with follow-up care, costs just R5 500.

Operation Smile works in 60 countries worldwide, 13 of them African countries, and has provided more than 220 000 free surgical procedures to children born with cleft lips or palates. Operation Smile SA recently launched and is already making serious inroads into reducing the incidence of cleft in our country. Through the simple act of wearing a Smile bracelet you can support and connect to the great work that they do.

The Operation Smile bracelets can be bought at Woolworths stores nationwide, and are made by Relate Bracelets, a 100% not-for-profit social enterprise that creates opportunities to change lives through the making and selling of hand-beaded bracelets.

Neil Robinson, COO of Relate Bracelets, says, “The contribution made by buying this bracelet will help Operation Smile give children a new smile and a new life.”

By wearing a Relate Smile! Bracelet you are supporting the important work that they do and wearing the change you want to

see in the world. But the benefits of this bracelet reach even further, too.

Relate partners with a variety of different causes, after making sure their values are aligned, but the thread running through all the bracelets is the people, mostly younger women and senior citizens who make the bracelets at the various Ikamva Labantu centres around the Western Cape. Many of the elderly women are living on government pensions but having to support families. The bracelet-making provides them with extra income, and it’s a social activity. Some of them use the money to send their grandchildren to school.

For the younger bracelet-makers, they have their whole lives ahead of them and are supported through upskilling programmes and degrees, so that they can eventually move beyond Relate and fulfil their own goals.

“Relate Bracelets is different from other non-profits in that it doesn’t ask for donations, but invites corporates and the public to join their movement for change by buying and wearing the bracelets,” says Robinson.

Every bracelet made and sold by Relate carries the signature ‘R’ bead as a mark of our unique model, and our commitment to transparency and accountability in all that we do.

Purchase your Smile bracelets here and join our movement for change.