KIGALI - MTN Rwanda donated $10,000 (approx. Rwf6m) to Operation Smile, a South African foundation set to perform free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries on over 200 patients.
Operation Smile is currently screening hundreds of patients and will, on Monday, announce the exact number to undergo operation.
MTN’s Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Rugege, handed over the cheque to the foundation’s Vice President for Africa, Natalie Miller, at CHU-K.
“We are humbled to be associated with this activity of putting smiles on people’s faces,” Rugege said.
Upon receiving the cheque, Miller noted that, for surgeries to be conducted effectively, Operation Smile needs local partnership from the communities and local companies.
“With this kind of assistance, I assure you, everything will be possible,” she added.
Pascasia Mukangarambe, 50, was born with a cleft lip.
In an interview with The New Times, she said she has lived with stigma and faced difficulty consuming liquids.
“Sometimes people could tell me that I can get treatment at a cost of Rfw 10,000 but I could not raise that much,” said Mukangarambe, a widow and mother of six.
“It is not easy living in society with such a deformity, sometimes people isolate me but all I need now is to have a normal look and smile like others before I die,” she added.
Alex Buhungiro dropped out of school because of stigma and speech difficulty.
According to doctors, Buhungiro’s case can be treated; he can have a bright smile on his face and speak perfectly after an operation.
A cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of the lip, which can include the bone of the upper jaw; while a cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth because the two sides of the palate have not joined properly.
A cleft is an opening which is non-fusion of the body’s natural structures that form before birth.