In this tender portrait of father and son, we meet Reuny, a young boy from a remote Amazonian community. Born with a complete unilateral cleft lip and palate, he suffered from weakness as a baby because he was unable to consume breastmilk or baby foods. The deformed lip and the gap in the roof of his mouth meant that food and liquid would come out through his nose, choking him along the way. His father was distraught by his son’s suffering, and struggled to save money to afford corrective surgery. As he was employed, he and his family could not claim any of the expensive costs of treatment from the state. The long journey to the nearest hospital providing this service could only be made by chartering a boat, increasing the amount needed substantially.

The specialist cleft repair charity, Smile Train, asked Robin to tell the story of Reuny and his father’s time at Hospital Geral de Benjamin Constant in Amazonas, Brazil. He learned that the pair had had to undertake quite an intrepid journey to arrive there, as had the surgeons who carried out the operation (who Robin accompanied). Given that reaching the location from the city of Manaus usually takes a week by boat, Smile Train secured Government of Brazil assistance in chartering a small plane so the doctors could take a three-hour flight over the thick Amazon canopy to nearby Tabatinga. From there, they were transported by boat, along with their medical supplies and anaesthesia equipment, to the hospital.

This attention to logistical detail, essential under the circumstances, is something that Smile Train has become known for. The non-profit commissioned Robin to travel with the doctors in order to document the lengths they go to in ensuring that treatment is accessible to all, no matter where they live. He was also present in the operating theatre, allowing him to complete Reuny’s story – and those of six others – to inform the charity’s public supporters in a more captivating and enchanting way.


Intrepid journeys for health

Public health

Smile Train

Benjamin Constant, Amazonas, Brazil

Camera settings
35mm, ISO 5000, 1/200, f/3.2