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Press Release – 1 February 2018

Raising funds for and honouring South African children with serious burn injuries

Twelve people from across continents will soon embark on an expedition that will be life-changing – not only for themselves but for the thousands of South African children who annually suffer serious burn injuries. The group will proudly fly the flag of the Avela Foundation in collaboration with the Smile Foundation.

The Avela Foundation is a recently established non-profit organisation that is committed to helping these kids on their road to physical and emotional recovery. The foundation was inspired by a brave seven month old baby girl who showed tremendous courage in the face of adversity.

Avela Foundation founder Cami Palomo has gathered eleven special people across generations to accompany her on this journey to Base Camp of the mighty Mount Everest.  Palomo, originally from El Salvador but who now calls Cape Town “home”, is on a passionate and determined quest to raise funds for Avela and other organisations that assist young burn survivors. “The Avela Foundation provides hope to those kids who are in desperate need of physical as well as emotional care after having suffered life-threatening or debilitating burn injuries”, says Palomo.

Palomo adds that as part of their mission, the Avela Foundation raises funds to provide the latest technology and equipment to improve burn injuries.

Hedley Lewis, Smile Foundation’s CEO, says climbing base camp is an unbelievable challenge and that his organisation lauds the Avela Foundation for partnering with them and embarking on this incredible journey. “This journey is about overcoming challenges for both the climbers but just as importantly for burn survivors. In this instance base camp is a light for these survivors”, says Lewis.

It is estimated that 3.2% of the South African population annually sustains serious burn injuries. Sixty eight percent of South African children younger than 14 have experienced scalding burns.

Avela Team South Africa

The Avela Foundation is a non-profit organisation that helps children with burn injuries on their road to physical and psychological recovery. “Children are magnificent, vibrant and full of life, but sometimes life doesn’t treat them kindly and that’s where we come in by giving them hope through love and support”, says founder, Cami Palomo.  “We do everything in our power to make their lives easier and help them reach their true potential”, says Palomo.

Find out how you can support us by visiting our website
or call Cami Palomo on 072 7331750 (or Roger-Michael Raad on 083 946 8886).
For Afrikaans interviews contact Lanie van Reenen on 082 927 5306.

We’re about putting smiles on the faces of children in South Africa. The Smile Foundation is a local (South African) NGO that assists children with any type of facial condition to receive corrective plastic and reconstructive surgery within the country’s borders. We help children who suffer from treatable facial anomalies such as cleft lip and palate, burn injuries, Moebius Syndrome (facial paralysis) and other conditions. We are currently based in eleven academic hospitals around South Africa. We invest in the medical teams we work with through a skills development program and we assist the hospitals by purchasing equipment for use by the departments of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Our chief patron, the late Nelson Mandela’s wish is for us to assist as many children around South Africa as possible to alleviate the stigma attached to living with a facial condition.

For more information, contact the Smile Foundation at
or 0861 276 453. Make a donation today! Help put a smile on a child’s face today! SMS “Smile” to 38413 to donate R10.