Cub on a mission to help Operation Smile

Kiran Cato, 8, with the bottle tops he has collected.

A Pinelands North Primary School pupil is collecting bottle caps to recycle and raise money in aid of Operation Smile.

Kiran Cato, 8, from Kenilworth, is a 2nd Plumstead cub, and he is following in his brother Kyle’s footsteps, after taking over the project from him in 2020 when he left to go and study in the Eastern Cape.

Operation Smile is a medical NGO that helps patients born with cleft lips and palates undergo surgery to correct these birth defects.

Kyle started the recycling project in 2016, after attending the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Japan in July 2015. It was there he saw how much recycling the Japanese do — which prompted him to start a recycling project at home (“Kyle on a mission to help others,” Tatler, July 19, 2018).

Kiran’s project, however, has gotten off to a slow start with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. With things returning to normal, he hopes to collect enough bottle caps to help fund the cleft-lip and palate operations.

Kiran said it was a natural progression for him to take over the project and continue his brother’s good work. He called on the public to help him collect milk, juice, water and fizzy-drink bottle caps.

From January 2020 to February 2022, Kiran has collected 505kg of bottle tops. He also collects bread tags which will go towards purchasing wheelchairs for children on the waiting list at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Kiran’s mother, Cara Cato, said they were a community-service-orientated family who worked on projects where children were the beneficiaries.

“Kiran has collected library books for a library in Bonteheuwel and collects fluffy toys for the children’s court in Wynberg. He is still collecting fluffy toys for those interested in donating,” she said.

Ms Cato said she was proud of her boys for making a difference in the lives of other children.

Fiola Lujabe, from Operation Smile South Africa, said one operation cost R5 500 and the organisation had partnered with many schools and clubs for recycling initiatives.

“A kilogram of bottle caps comes to about R2, so this project requires a lot of bottle caps,” she said.

Contact Ms Cato at for drop-off points.