Help change a child's life with a smile

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2011, 12:00am


A charity is hoping for help to fund its simple mission - to put a smile back on the faces of children with cleft lips and palates.

Many have difficulty eating and speaking properly and some are cruelly teased by other youngsters, said David Wong, general manager of Operation Smile.

Their suffering can be ended by a 45-minute operation to stitch together the gap in their lip.

But hundreds of thousands of children from poor families in rural mainland communities are deprived of the surgery, he said.

That is because the mainland's public health system does not pay for the operation.

'On the mainland, about one in every 600 children is born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both,' Wong said.

'Normally, wealthy families can get surgery in well-equipped hospitals in the big cities and they get pretty good surgery. But for rural farming families it costs too much money. They can't afford it. Therefore, we run medical missions all year around.

'By providing free surgery to these children, we help them to get their smile back.'

The charity has provided free reconstructive surgery for more than 22,000 children on the mainland since 1991, bringing in volunteer doctors and nurses.

Next year the charity will organise Southern Smile 2012, a series of missions to southern provinces. Teams will visit rural areas of Yunnan , Guizhou , Guangxi , Sichuan and Guangdong.

Southern Smile 2012 will be a beneficiary of this year's Operation Santa Claus, an annual fund-raising drive organised by the South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong.

The money raised will cover rent for operating rooms, the cost of medical supplies and volunteers' travel and accommodation expenses.

It will also cover visits to the mission by the children's families.

Patients stay with the mission until doctors are sure the surgery is a complete success.

Anila Ma Yee-ting, Operation Smile's marketing chief, said a successful operation means a lot to the families as well as the children.

'It makes us happy to see that we can help not only children, but also their families. They show their appreciation by bringing us souvenirs, or bringing food to share with us.

'The family is under a lot of pressure from having to raise a child with a cleft lip. By providing free surgery to the youngster, we are bringing smiles to the family as well as the child.'

OSC has been in operation for more than 23 years, supporting more than 100 different charities.

How you can give

Donate online by credit card at

Donations can be made at ATMs or at any branch of HSBC: account number 502-676299-001 for SCMP CHARITIES LTD-OPERATION SANTA CLAUS

You can make a donation by cheque, payable to 'SCMP CHARITIES LTD-OPERATION SANTA CLAUS' and mail to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories, Hong Kong

Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt with your name, address and phone number to the address above.

Contact us via e-mail at, telephone 2680 8159 or visit us online at