Nine-year-old Camila from Santiago, Chile has a beautiful smile that lights up the room. While her smile is uniquely hers, it’s also the product of a lot of love and hard work by the people in her life.
Camila’s smile started with the unconditional love of her mother Natalie. Camila’s grandmother Margarita explains, “Natalie was surprised by Camila’s cleft lip and palate, but the very first thing she said [after the birth] was ‘My baby is beautiful.’ ”
Camila’s smile is partly due to her mom’s tenacity. When a local hospital told Natalie that Camila would have to wait three years for cleft lip and palate surgeries, she didn’t accept it as reality. She searched for three months until a cousin called about an advertisement for Smile Train’s local partner, Fundación Gantz. Only days later, Camila received her free cleft lip surgery. Camila’s cleft palate was treated one year later.
Camila’s smile was at its lowest when her mother tragically passed away when she was only four years old. However, one of Natalie’s last acts was ensuring that Camila would live with her loving grandparents, Margarita and Jose.
Fundación Gantz continued to help Camila over the years with speech services and psychological support. Margarita explained, “Fundación Gantz opened their doors to us, and they’ve been such a blessing. After Natalie’s death, Camila kept everything on the inside — the Fundación Gantz psychologists helped her work through that.”
Today, Jose and Margarita report that Camila’s smile is at its brightest. Margarita shares, “She really enjoys speech therapy at Fundación Gantz. She is only one class away from her graduating from the program — she speaks perfectly. She is doing well in school and has decided to be an artist when she grows up.”
Jose chimes in, “Although we spend a lot of time together, Camila has a lot of friends who love to be with her too. She is such a sweet and happy child and reminds us very much of her mother Natalie.”