Life is Aquetzaly’s Dance Floor

Her every move is pure grace

When Aquetzaly was born with a cleft, her parents worried her life might be over before it really began. She struggled to eat, and her doctors warned she was at risk of severe malnourishment and possibly worse. Even if they found a way to help her gain weight, they worried that might only be one little victory at the start of a lifetime of struggles. What would other children say? Would she have friends? Would anyone be able to understand her when she spoke?

Their hearts broke with the possibilities. Then they learned about Fundacion Proyecto Una Mejor Sonrisa, their nearest Smile Train partner. 

After a quick evaluation, the team taught her mom, Ameyali, special techniques for nursing Aquetzaly, then scheduled her for free cleft surgeries at the earliest safe times: She had her cleft lip surgery when she was three months; her cleft palate surgery when she turned nine months.

Suddenly, Aquetzaly’s future looked as bright as her smile. A few years later, it got even brighter once she completed her courses of personalized speech therapy, also made possible by Smile Train.

Today, life is her dance floor.

Learning how to gracefully move the body that once seemed so vulnerable has given Aquetzaly a special grace of her own. Leaping, twirling, pirouetting, she feels alive and free. She comes by it naturally. Her mother, aunt, and sister are also dancers, and when they dance the Jarana together, she feels in step with the inner choreography of her family’s history and her own soul.

Aquetzaly with her parents
Family support has meant everything to Aquetzaly along her cleft journey

Prancing and smiling everywhere she goes alongside her many friends, Aquetzaly lives with the confidence and joy of a young woman who knows anything is possible, thanks to the endless love of her family and Smile Train’s donors around the world.

Aquetzaly smiling and making a heart with her fingers
Aquetzaly sends love to Smile Train supporters everywhere, who helped her achieve her dreams

I want all girls and boys to know that they can achieve what they have dreamed of like me, who has learned how to dance