Members of the Wits Students’ Surgical Society will once again be participating in the Kilimanjaro Challenge for the Smile Foundation to give children with facial abnormalities corrective facial surgery.

An initiative at Wits University is attempting to have a team of 24 Wits medical students climb Mount Kilimanjaro in order to raise funds for children in need of facial reconstructive surgery. Through sponsorship and donations, the Wits Students’ Surgical Society aims to raise R750 000 for the Smile Foundation by summiting the 5895 metre peak of Kilimanjaro from 3 to 10 December 2016.

Emma Wessels, project coordinator for the Kilimajaro Challenge 2016, says that one of the main aims of the society is to give back to the community. “Most people take a friendly smile for granted, but for these children it is a daily social challenge. By challenging medical students to face something as daunting as summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in support of The Smile Foundation, we hope to show some of these children that we are willing to face a challenge in support of their daily challenges. We hope to make more smiles,” said Wessels.

Executive director of finance and fundraising at the Smile Foundation, Hedley Lewis, thanked the society for all its efforts.

“Your legacy lasts forever, because of the support you gave those children two years ago, they’re still living and smiling because you guys put on those boots and climbed,” said Lewis.

The initial Kilimanjaro Challenge in 2014 saw a group of 17 medical students from the society, raise R600 000 by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and participating in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge.

Last year, the money Wits medical students raised allowed them to assist two children who suffered from facial paralysis due to a nerve condition called Moebius Syndrome to undergo reconstructive surgery.