Alexander Zamorano was born in Chile with a double cleft palate. It’s a condition in which a baby is born with an opening in the roof of a mouth.
Zamorano grew up with the condition.
“I could not speak well,” he says. Children in school would attempt to bully him, he says, but thanks to a friend and protector named Parrada, he was sheltered from most of the cruelty.
“When the kids were bugging me, Parrada came and shuffled them away. He was my bodyguard. God was helping me.”
Even in university, he says, he could not enunciate words well.
Fortunately, for many children, especially in the developed world, a simple surgery early in a child’s life is all that is required to fix the condition.
Unfortunately, however, the surgery is unaffordable or hard to access for many children in the developing world.
It’s Bel Hume’s goal to help change that.
She’s been working with many people across Williams Lake and the area, including Zamorano to fundraise money for Operation Smile.
It’s an organization dedicated to providing free cleft surgery for children across the developing world.
Hume says it only costs $240 to provide surgery to a child, an amount she’s hoping to raise many times over.
“There are parents who don’t have any other means of raising money to get their child surgery,” she says.
It’s a cause she became passionate about after seeing the program on television.
“Every time I saw it I would start to cry because I had worked with those children as a licensed practical nurse at this hospital and at Richmond General Hospital. I just had a heart for those children and I felt that we had to do something.”
Throughout the years Hume’s hosted several fundraisers for Operation Smile, and has a continuing penny drive at the Williams Lake and District Credit Union that has raised more than $2,000 during the past two years.
This year, the group will be hosting an apple crisp and berry crisp sale on Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hume and Zamorano invite people to stop by the credit union and pick up a slice of crisp, some ice cream, tea and coffee for a donation.
If you’re too busy in your office, Hume will be having students delivering the crisps throughout town on their lunch hour from 11:30 to 12:30. To have a crisp delivered, you’ll have to pre-order by calling Hume at 250-398-8740 until the afternoon of Feb. 7.
Hume says she doesn’t have a specific amount she’s trying to raise.
“I don’t care what the goal is. I just want to help as many kids as we can.”
While Alex says he has had a very successful life, going to university, immigrating to Canada in the 70s and having five children, one of whom is a nurse in the area, he says life would have been easier growing up with the surgery. He has since had the cleft closed, but never had the full surgery.
“I know what it is to suffer without having the surgeries and cosmetics that exist in Canada,” says Zamorano. “Without anything I survived. Now we would like to raise money so that a doctor can perform a surgery in other countries to children who were born like me.”