Ride for smiles

Cleft lips and cleft palates are the fourth most common birth defects in the world and area typically corrected shortly after the baby’s birth in areas with sufficient access to health care.

However, for many children in rural areas around the world, medical treatment is not available. Often these children cannot eat, speak or breathe properly and due to low self-esteem, as well as feelings of isolation, often live as social outcasts.

An international organisation known as Operation Smile has a branch office in South Africa. This organisation has put together a team of highly skilled surgeons and medical staff who donate their time and expertise to perform miracle surgery on these kids at no cost to the patient or family. However, there is a cost involved in theatre time, medical supplies and so forth, and Operation Smile needs to raise funds to cover these costs.

The Blackbird Association of South Africa, a group of Honda Blackbird motorcycle riders is supporting Operation Smile by undertaking a Ride for Smiles, a 7500 kilometre circumnavigation of South Africa to create awareness for this cause.

They will be starting their journey of hope from Nelspruit at 06:00 on Sunday 9 May 2010 on their Honda Blackbirds, passing through Phalaborwa, Tzaneen, Musina, Alldays, Tom Burke, Lephalale, Thabazimbi, Rustenburg, Mafikeng, Kuruman, Upington, Pofadder, Springbok, Alexander Bay, Port Nolloth, Lambert’s Bay, Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Port Elizabeth, Port Alfred, East London, Port St Johns, Port Edward, Durban, Richards Bay, Kosi Bay, Pongola, Piet Retief, Nelspruit, Pretoria and ending in Johannesburg on Friday 21 May 2010.

If you see them on the road, give them a friendly wave, taking the time to think of these less fortunate children and dig deep into your budgets or pockets to support the miracles done by Operation Smile. “Let’s heal the world, one smile at a time.”

For further information, contact Operation Smile on 021 481 9175 or Van van der Merwe, local Blackbird motorcycle rider on 072 633 6187 or vanvandermerwe@gmail.com.