Sitting on the 5th floor with her one of her older sisters Angelique and their father Wenceslao, 10-year-old Chelsea (the youngest of two brothers and three sisters) sits and waits for what will be her second surgery. Chelsea was born with Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip.
Chelsea’s journey started in her home town of Ormac City, Leyte in 2008. The local hospital held a free clinic and at the age of 3 Chelsea was able to have her cleft lip repaired.
Knowing that Chelsea still needed her Cleft Palate repaired in the future her parents, filled with faith and hope, continued to look for help. Lack of time and money didn’t stop their search. Inclement weather and Wenceslao suffering a mild stroke didn’t stop their search.
Then in 2013 a miracle, Wenceslao found another mission! A local hospital offered another free clinic that could perform the palate repair surgery for Chelsea. Shortly after receiving the good news, Chelsea started to feel under the weather and her surgery was put on hold. Just hours, later that same local hospital was washed away by the largest Typhoon in the Philippine history – Typhoon Yolanda. Chelsea and her family took her surgery being put on hold as a blessing. So with hope and more prayers Wenceslao set out to find help for his little girl.
In 2014 what was thought to be another miracle, Wenceslao found another mission. This one was being held in a gymnasium with make shift ORs. Wenceslao had an uneasy feeling about the conditions of the make shift OR’s but moved forward and Chelsea was accepted for surgery. But they had to travel 30 kilometers for blood work and by the time the results of the blood work came back, the mission had completed all surgeries and were packing up to leave. Although disappointed Wenceslao was also a bit relieved. He really didn’t feel comfortable with arrangements and make shift ORs.
In 2016 Wenceslao went to visit his brother in Cebu City and heard on the radio about the Rotaplast mission. Then the real miracle happened, the mission was to be in a safe, clean place with a group of American doctors. Chelsea was at opening clinic and was approved for surgery on day three of the mission!!!!!
Chelsea waiting for surgery.
Nurse Victoria Slama, Chelsea, her dad and Dr. Capozzi.
Nurse Victoria letting Chelsea know everything is going to be fine and that she will be back in school before she knows it.
Older sister Angelique comforting her sister.
Sisters finally resting.
During our talk with Wenceslao, Chelsea sat and just smiled. Her story is so much like little girls all over the world, and parents that want their sons and daughters to be happy and the healthy. All little girls worry “will I fit in?” “am I pretty enough?” “are my clothes okay?” and biggest of all “will I have friends?” Chelsea loved school, art, numbers, basketball and desperately wanted friends. Each day Chelsea would come home very sad and withdrawn. Eventually she started opening up to her brothers and sisters. The children at school were bullying her, calling her names and laughing at her. When her parents found out what was going on they did their best to listen and promised that some day they would find a way for her to have surgery. But she couldn’t understand the unkindness and how to deal with it so in Grade 1, yes GRADE 1, this little girl dropped out of school. Her friends are her brothers and sisters. At home she draws and has learned to cook, and her 13 year old sister Angelique tries to teach her numbers. For years now Chelsea has dreamed of learning to read and interact with kids her own age.