Nazareno: Strength. Discipline. Smiles.

Smile Train

From the moment he was born, nothing could stand in Nazareno’s way.


Though many babies with clefts struggle to eat and gain weight, his parents were diligent in getting him all the care he needed to thrive from his earliest days, even if that meant driving him to and from many, many doctor’s appointments.

And while many children with clefts suffer self-esteem issues from constantly facing bullies, Nazareno learned taekwondo so he could face his bullies down.

Today, Nazareno is a 12-year-old black belt living a life of balance, joy, and constant self-improvement. When not training at the dojo or gym, he’s at Asociación Simi Sumaq, his local Smile Train partner hospital, receiving dental check-ups so that the last thing his opponents see before he pins them down is a confident, healthy smile.

Instilled with endless love from his parents, lifelong support from the cleft team at Asociación Simi Sumaq, and the discipline of a sensei, he moves with the confidence of someone who knows there’s nothing he can’t achieve if he works hard and believes in himself.

It’s that confidence that allowed him to win second in the world at the Junior Taekwondo World Cup in the Netherlands earlier this year!


Did you enjoy reading this article? Read more stories from Brazil and Latin America.

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