“Help the life of one person and you can help the community”
This could not be more evident with the story of Chaimaa Zamoum from Morocco.
Chaimaa was a former Operation Smile patient who received free surgery for her cleft lip condition. But there are two things that makes her story unique – the doctor who operated on her and what she is doing now.
Her doctor is no other than Dr. Sonny Santos from Operation Smile Philippines (OSP). Dr. Santos is one of the long-standing medical volunteers of OSP. Dr. Sonny has been volunteering not only for local Philippine missions but international missions as well. That’s where he met Chaimaa.
Here is how Chaimaa shared her story:
Operation Smile Morocco cannot be described in one word. That’s what I’ve discovered while my colleagues were shooting a video yesterday.
My name is Chaimaa Zamoum, I’m 23 years old and I’m an ex Operation Smile patient, now volunteer.
I was born with a bilateral cleft lip so, I had about 3 surgeries, 2 of them were right after I was born and I have no memory about. However, I can remember the last one and will be sharing with you some of them. It was at the hospital of Settat on 2006. I was twelve by then so, I can remember pretty much everything. I still remember the atmosphere that was there very clearly, the joy I was feeling, the kids I was playing with, and the toys I was given.
My surgeon back then was Dr. Sonny Santos. I can remember how nice he was with me, not just him but everyone who was there including the OR nurses and the child life.
The image I’ve maintained from Operation Smile, is “Happiness” “friendliness” and mostly “Kindness”, those are the words I thought of while I were asked to describe Operation Smile in one word.
On 2019 my brother, who had a unilateral cleft lip, was also operated by Operation Smile. My dad immediately recognized Dr. Sonny and so, I met my doctor for the second time in my life. It was a feeling that no words can ever describe especially when I talked to him face to face.
Dr. Sonny insisted on operating my brother as well, which was an overwhelming feeling for my family.
At the same mission my brother was operated in, at El jadida, I met Ms. Nour and asked if I can volunteer with, the operation that’s giving me so many memories, Operation Smile. Since, I have a BA in English studies, I was able to volunteer as a translator, which was my major for my master’s degree, hopefully I’ll graduate by next month once I finish my thesis.
So far, I’ve been part of three missions. My first mission was on October at Agadir, my second was at Tangier on July 2021, and my third one November 2021, sadly, just ended today. I hope I participate in more missions, God willing, because by meeting those kids I remember myself as a kid. Specifically when I was given the chance to get into the OR at the mission of Tengier to see how the Operations work. I would lie if I say I wasn’t gonna burst into tears. I felt proud of myself knowing that I’ve been on the bed of surgery and now I’m being on the other side. It’s a feeling that no words can ever describe.
By joining the Operation Smile family I’ve met several lots of people, now friends, from different backgrounds, who made me feel loved and included and that’s one of the so many things I’m grateful for after joining the family.
Operation Smile means a great deal to me and words can never give it justice.
My family and I will forever be grateful for it. 🙏🏻
This is just one of the stories how Operation Smile provides more than just surgery. As Dr. Sonny puts it, we are happy we are able to effectively change lives of the patients we touched.