Amaro’s Smile “Fills Hearts”

His story proves the truly transformative difference our model makes

Amaro smiling and holding a soccer ball
Amaro today

Look at Amaro, and you would never think he once struggled to smile.

Amaro riding bikes with his friends
Amaro riding bikes with his friends

Or that this boy who spends his days riding bikes and playing soccer with his many friends was once at risk for malnutrition, speech issues, and a life of loneliness and missed potential.

Amaro with his neighborhood friends
Amaro with his neighborhood posse

The reason he avoided the fate of so many other children with clefts is simple: early intervention at Fundación Gantz, Smile Train’s local partner in Santiago, Chile.

As a Smile Train Cleft Leadership Center, Fundación Gantz sets the standard for comprehensive, holistic cleft care not only for Chile, but entire region.

Amaro does a therapy session with a friend at Fundación Gantz
Amaro joining a friend in a therapy session at Fundación Gantz

When Amaro was born, he choked on breastmilk and screamed with hunger night and day. He only stopped once his family was referred to Fundación Gantz for the nutritional care that may have saved his life. The staff also fitted him for pre-surgical orthopedics to better prepare his mouth for surgery. As he grew, Gantz became a second home and his cleft team a second family.

Amaro fistbumps his dentist at Fundación Gantz
Amaro fistbumping his dentist at Fundación Gantz

Instead of sending in outside volunteers on one-to-two-week “missions,” Smile Train trains and empowers local cleft professionals — like the team at Gantz — to provide top-quality care to their neighbors in need. For Amaro, that’s allowed him to receive the surgeries he needed, plus speech therapy, dental work, orthodontics, and more at the exact time he needed them, from homegrown experts who have become his friends and role models. All for free.

Dr Gloria wearing a Smile Train pin
Dr. Carmen Gloria Morovic 

“You cannot treat a patient with a cleft only with surgeries,” said Dr. Carmen Gloria Morovic, a cleft surgeon at Gantz and one of its co-founders.

Dr. Maria Campodónico, a pediatric dentist at Fundación Gantz, makes a heart with her hands
Dr. Maria Campodónico, a pediatric dentist at Fundación Gantz, making a heart with her hands

Perhaps inspired by how he has seen research and technology (and the people who make them possible) change his life, Amaro wants to become a scientist when he grows up.

Amaro smiling on a swing
Amaro swinging and smiling

Today, Amaro’s smile rarely leaves his face. “I am happy because I have… a family that loves me and friends who support me as I do with them. We will always be there for each other.”

Smile Train can always be there for Amaro because Smile Train knows we can count on the generous support of people like you.

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Our Impact in Chile

as of June 2022


cleft surgeries sponsored since 2002


active partner surgeons


active partner hospitals