Rojan J. Pajarin for Smile Train

cleft patient, cleft advocate, marathoner, fighter, proud husband and father

Rojan J. Pajarin born with a cleft lip and palate is now a bike mechanic and a Patient Care Staff at Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation of the Philippines, exuding with positivity and energy. At work, he is the source of encouragement of parents and children with clefts. He uses his life as an example to boost their morale and reminds them to never lose hope.

Life was not always bright for Rojan. At the age of 5, he had a cleft lip surgery during a mission in Legaspi City. However, his cleft palate remained so his speech was still impaired. He endured immense bullying and teasing during his teen years until adulthood because of the way he talked. His spirit was crushed and he lost his self-esteem. He limited interacting and speaking to other people altogether.

Rojan never gave up and was relentless in pursuing a better life. He was determined to get a college education and is a proud graduate of a business management course at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasay. He was a working student and drove a pedicab (tricycle) after school hours to make this dream possible. His father was only a fisherman with irregular income so Rojan also carried the burden of supporting his siblings.

Despite his degree, he was rejected during job interviews, again because of his speech. He realized that he needed his cleft palate repaired in order to get employment and move forward with his life. Last 2008, Smile Train funded the much needed surgery for Rojan. Post-surgery, he also attended intensive weekly speech therapy classes in Our Lady of Peace Craniofacial Center as part of Smile Train’s comprehensive care. This dramatically improved the quality of his voice and speech. He was later absorbed as an employee of Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation Philippines in Manila as a support staff.

Life just went uphill after the surgery and Rojan was able to pursue his dreams and passions.

Now at 31 years old, he is a member of Team Fitness and is an accomplished elite runner who has participated in numerous marathons. He has a beautiful wife and two children. His next goal is to race for Smile Train in IRONMAN 70.3 Mactan and raise funds for cleft patients just like him.