How Dr Monaisa uses art to help restore confidence of breast cancer survivors
Dr Brian Monaisa is closing International Women’s Month on a high note by performing breast reconstruction surgery under his charity organisation, Smiles Artists Africa.
The non-profit organisation is what one may call a collaboration between art and medicine.
Dr Monaisa, originally from Itsoseng, a small township in the North West Province, and artist, Azael Langa, got visual artists to help restore the confidence of women who are breast cancer survivors.
Dr Monaisa is an internationally renowned plastic surgeon whose passions extend beyond the usual nip tuck.
“Our charity combines art sales with breast cancer reconstruction. We identify emerging or established artists and also great art that people would want to own. We then sell it and use the profit to fund breast cancer reconstruction.
“I do the surgery and the money raised goes towards the hospital fees mostly. Myself and the artists donate our time."
Asked why he saw the importance of founding this organisation, he said it is because of his love for art.
“I collaborate with artists because I love art. I am a collector and I know artists. I partnered with Azeal Langa because we have a long-standing friendship and have worked together on other projects.
“The idea (for the organisation) came from him. He asked me what the artist community could do to help, and I told him that I am seeing more people becoming interested in collecting art. They want to invest in art but don’t know which artists to buy and are hesitant because it seems like there’s a lot of money to pay for a painting or a sculpture. Langa has exhibited internationally, he’s very well-known in the community, and we just decided to start the organisation,” he added.
The founder of Marang Aesthetics revealed that after their first auction on December 3 last year, they were able to raise about R300 000 to fund breast reconstruction for women who are cancer survivors but cannot afford to pay for the surgery. As such, they were able to give some of the proceeds to the artists and do their first surgery under the organisation on March 25.
Asked about the aim behind the foundation is, he said that all they wanted to do with Langa, was to uplift women. Not just cancer survivors, but those in arts, too.
“There are a couple of things that we’re working on. One is this, which is breast cancer reconstruction. Langa also started a different foundation called the Azael Langa Foundation.
“It is about finding and nurturing and helping push female artists. If you look at the artist’s community, 5% of them are women. Most of them end up doing other works outside of art because of the limitations in the field. Our focus is on contributing to South African society, and this is what we thought we could do.
“If you look at plastic surgery worldwide, it has a tradition of philanthropy. There’s a lot of smile foundations. It’s our culture in plastic surgery to do some pro bono work, to reach out to the community because we know that the improvement in the quality of life has such a positive effect on the person,” said Dr Monaisa.
In the foreseeable future, Dr Monaisa, who is also the head of plastic surgery at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, hopes to identify more artists and take their work internationally for auctioning. He also wants to extend the project to areas where there are few plastic surgeons.
“We felt that it was an area that could benefit from increased awareness. I met a lady last year who had to raise money to pay for her breast cancer reconstruction because she caught cancer very young, and she wasn’t on medical aid. The quality of life improvement, the joy she had after the surgery made me aware that there must be other women who have the same problem, and for me, it felt like a perfect fit. Also, because I do a lot of breast surgery, It’s an area I believe we can consistency give good results within all our range of specialities.”
Their next auction will be held in May this year and will be online.