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Patient Story Morocco

A Former Patient, Aymane Now Shares His Story

Patient Story Morocco

A Former Patient, Aymane Now Shares His Story

It was her third attempt to get her son the help he needed for his cleft lip and cleft palate. Concerned by unprofessional consultations with two previous doctors, she was even more determined to provide her baby, Aymane, with the highest-quality care. The mother heard of a care opportunity in Casablanca and hopped on a train, managing her infant son by herself and struggling to get a diaper from their bag. 

A woman asked if she could help. In the past, others had only responded with intrusive questions or unkind remarks when they saw Aymane, so the mother refused the woman’s help. She wanted to keep baby Aymane covered and protected.  

But the more the mother struggled with her bag, the more the woman offered support. 

On her third attempt to help, the mother agreed, gently folding Aymane into the woman’s arms – and to the mother’s surprise, the woman played with her baby, tickling him and cooing. 

"Apparently my mom was shocked because no one had this reaction with me when they took me in their hands,” recounted Aymane, now 19 years old and living in France. "They're always asking, ‘What's going on, is he OK?’ sometimes laughing, sometimes making jokes. ... My mom, she didn’t really want to hear that from people, but the woman didn't do that.”

That woman was Fouzia Mahmoudi, the visionary leader of Operation Smile Morocco and Operation Smile’s senior regional vice president of the Middle East and North Africa region. And not only did she help Aymane’s mom with her bag, but Madame Fouzia, as she’s known around Operation Smile, helped ensure that 7-month-old Aymane received care for his cleft condition from the excellent providers serving Operation Smile Morocco. 

Aymane shares his story.

Now, almost two decades later, Aymane has returned to Operation Smile as a young advocate, sharing his story on April 9, 2024 with more than 1,000 people at the Ethicon U.S. Sales Meeting conference in Orlando, Florida, U.S. 

When asked about his hopes for his presentation, Aymane told us: "A doctor (outside of Operation Smile) said, ‘This boy will never speak.’ And now I'm speaking for myself; I'm speaking for all the children. So, when they will see me, I hope they will donate more, and we will have more people getting involved with Operation Smile, so we can have more good doctors. And if we have more money, more good doctors, we can help more children. If we help more children, more children will speak for themselves and for the children like them.”

Aymane said his mother’s experience trying to find quality care has determined the course of his life. “My goal is to be a doctor and to help Operation Smile, especially the children of Operation Smile and in the world who have cleft lip and palate. It's really a dream for me,” he said.

Aymane shares his story.

It turns out that his opportunity to reconnect with Operation Smile came sooner than his time to practice medicine. Aymane said he was in bed one night, scrolling through Instagram, when he came across Operation Smile and learned about Cleft Connect Chat, the organization’s monthly virtual gathering for students born with cleft conditions. He found Laura Alvarez, a founding member of Cleft Connect Chat, and reached out to her via the platform.

“Oh my God, when Laura told me about Cleft Connect — I mean, it was like a door opened, like a big door did open and there's a lot of light going out. ... It was like a voice inside me who's telling me like, ‘Look, you're not alone. There is everybody, like, who have their own stories, their own struggles. You are not the only one who was bullied,’” said Aymane, who says he loves being a part of the regular chats, even if they take place at 2 a.m. his time. 

As far as his next steps in his journey with Operation Smile, Aymane is devoted to serving others however he can. 

“I can do whatever Operation Smile wants me to,” Aymane said. “I want to be really involved ... I just want to be with my second family helping children – I mean, how can I refuse something from someone that helped me one day? So, I really owe them my life.” 


To learn more about Cleft Connect Chat, visit


It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.