Samir’s Pipe Dreams Come True

His family gave him a sanctuary. You gave him a smile

Romina lived with her husband and two children in a rural village in northern Argentina, a place where life happens outside, in tall grasses and dusty yards. Everyone was overjoyed when Romina learned she was pregnant for the third time. Her family didn’t have much — their hand-built brick home barely held the four of them — but they had love and faith in abundance.

At the ultrasound, when the fuzzy screen revealed a clear gap in her baby’s head, Romina turned to her partner for support, but he wasn’t there.

He had fled at the sight of the cleft and never came back. Suddenly, Romina was left to figure out how to raise a child with special medical needs and two other children alone on one small income.

“People asked me why I had decided to raise him in the situation I was in,” reflected Romina. “I responded that... I did not lose hope that at any moment we would be able to get surgery for him.”

She wasn’t a single mom for long; another man eagerly stepped into the gap. He loved Samir from the moment he was born, and as the boy grew, he taught him to read and behave and play marbles. His name is Daniel, but Samir just calls him “Dad.”

The family still struggled, but to Samir, all was perfect. He never knew the days his parents went hungry so he and his brothers could eat, the nights they lay awake worrying what his future would be if they were never able to afford surgery for him. All he knew were long, happy hours shooting marbles and soccer balls in the dirt with his siblings and turning a rusty old pipe into his own private waterpark.

Samir holding out marbles before cleft surgery
No one on the block cared how Samir looked. They just wanted to play marbles with him

Romina didn’t want to send him to school. She worried what the other children might do to him outside the sanctuary of love she and Daniel had built for him at home.

Sure enough, his classmates did tease and even hit him, from the first day. But Samir never felt “less than” because it turned out his family’s love was never a safe house at all. It was a warm glow that lived inside his heart and was with him always. He told his would-be tormentors, “I was born this way because God sent me this way. As long as my father, my mother, and my brothers love me, I am happy because this is what I want.”

Though he had confidence, he still didn’t have many friends. He was lonely, and it showed in his schoolwork.

Samir smiling in water after cleft surgery
When life gives Samir an old pipe, he makes a waterpark

When Samir was six, his family’s determination and tireless faith were rewarded at last when they discovered he could receive cleft surgery for free at a local hospital thanks to Smile Train. Romina called it a “dream come true.”

“After his surgery, the whole family has changed,” Romina cries. “What changed the most was that he relates to other children; he has more friends. He is encouraged to smile at others. Now he has the possibility of being someone in life, to have a good future, a job; that society no longer points its finger at him like they did before. Today, he is a boy who can do whatever he wants in his future.”

Daniel holding Samir after cleft surgery
Samir sharing a smile with his dad, Daniel

“I feel enormous joy for Samir,” said Daniel. “I achieved what I wanted [to] have him operated on. Thanks to Smile Train.”

Give hope, faith, and smiles to another child and family in need today.