From April 21 to April 25, volunteers from Minnesota, Georgia, Massachusetts, Arizona, Canada, and Vietnam joined the April 2015 Catalyst Foundation Aid Expedition (AE)Team in Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam about one hour away from Nha Trang, Vietnam.
The goal of Catalyst Foundation is to help build communities in Vietnam to help fight human trafficking. Catalyst works with the poorest villages in Vietnam to help break the cycle of poverty and help empower people. This AE worked specifically with the Raglai ethnic minority group in Vietnam. Within this community, 90% of families earn less than $1 a week and only 1% had ever been allowed access to medical care. 78% have no access to water for drinking, cooking, or bathing. 90% do not have a safe home or proper bathroom facilities.
The dynamic team included a physician assistant, dentist, medical doctor, social workers, carpenters, and more who helped provide medical and dental care, built a home/emergency shelter, distributed food, and taught basic hygiene.
During the AE, over 300 patients were seen of all ages. Common conditions encountered included dehydration, pneumonia, worms, musculoskeletal pain, tooth decay and pain, and skin concerns. The medical team was able to provide appropriate medications such as de-worming medications, education, and provide procedures such as tooth extraction and fluoride treatment.
The AE was a rewarding experience for all involved and would not have been possible without the support of organizations like the Henry Schein Cares Foundation and their Health Kit Outreach program!
Cam on (thank you)!
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On May 3rd 2015 we once again went to the streets of Detroit, MI to help our homeless population. We had the good fortune of running into another group called “The 2 FISH, 5 LOAVES misistry.” On this occasion we were able to pass out all of our remaining hygeine kits which are the very first things the people ask for and then our “street peeps” were treated to a lunch of deep fried fish, green beans, corns and much more. Thanks to Henry Schein and all of our friends who are doing so much good to help those in need!!
March 22 to 27, 2015, two dental students partnered with the non-profit organization U.S. International Health Alliance to bring oral health education and toothbrushes to children in Guatemala. As dental students from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, we know the importance of education in preventing early childhood caries and dental decay amongst adolescents and focused our efforts on education and prevention. There were many people involved in the organization of this dental outreach trip, including a physician, two dental students, two health promoters, and a dental assistant. We traveled throughout southeastern Petén, Guatemala. Many of the communities there have little to no access to medical or dental care. A trip to the nearest hospital would be both costly and timely, requiring a four to six hour bus ride. It did not take long to realize that the need in this region is great and the accessibility to care is minimal. Over the course of the week, approximately 1,000 children were given toothbrushes, oral health instructions and fluoride treatments. Early childhood caries and rampant decay were seen in every community visited. As the local diet is high in simple carbohydrates, it was clear that diet plays a significant role in the oral health of the people. Whether clean water access is arduous or not, sugary drinks and sticky foods are prevalent. We screened each child for gross dental decay and suggested referrals to the nearest dental clinic, when necessary. Our main focus was education. Each child that received a toothbrush was given a lesson in proper debridement and an interactive lesson on how diet affects their teeth. We also taught a class on oral hygiene instruction to a group of health promoters in the area to ensure that the fluoride treatments and dental education would continue after our departure. As we left the communities, many of the people expressed how grateful they were for our care and concern. While we accomplished many things during our visit, probably the most important was letting the people in the rural communities know that we care about their dental health. This outreach trip is hopefully the first of many in the Petén region to provide ongoing dental education and care. As described by one student, “I truly had an amazing experience in Petén. It was life changing, and Iam looking forward to going back.”
I am a senior at Cardinal Newman High School and with the help of my mentor, Dr. Leslie Jue, I organized a free dental clinic for uninsured children between the ages of 3 and 18 living in Sonoma County. The clinic was held on Sunday, January 25, 2015 in the Race Science Building at the Santa Rosa Junior College. With the help of six dentists, five hygienists, and six volunteers, we provided care for twenty-four children, totalling up to over $10,000 of free dental care given away. The clinic was the main event of my Community Based Service Learning mission, Project Healthy Child. Without the volunteers, my mentor, the Santa Rosa Junior College, and Dr. Ezbon Jen and Pam Rosell for supervising, I would not have been able to meet my goal of having the clinic. Additionally, I greatly appreciate and thank the Henry Schein Cares Foundation for donating a majority of the dental supplies needed to able to treat the children. Thank you everyone so much for all support!! Cantlen Forni
The first EthiopiaSmile dental mission trip was in the Fall of 2010, and began as a group of friends came around the idea of using dentistry to love the people of Ethiopia. In a country of 80 million people with under 100 trained dentists in the entire country, dental needs are rampant to say the least. Dental prevention and basic oral hygiene are not a part of the national culture. Morbidity and even mortality, directly related to dental infection, is a common occurrence, especially among the millions living in extreme poverty.
This past December, EthiopiaSmile V, consisting of eight dentists, 2 hygienist, and a pediatric doctor were joined by over 30 other non-dental volunteers in traveling to the capital city Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and six hours south to the mountain village of Dube Bute. Partnering with local ministries and churches, we were able to care for those most vulnerable. Just under 1,000 patients were assessed and treated. In light of the Biblical passage of James 1:27, we focused on caring for orphans, widows, the elderly and those children with obvious dental infection.
Keeping with the mission to love the people of Ethiopia as we felt Jesus would, we had a “buddy system” in place. Non-dental friends partner with a patient and walk them through the various stations as they receive treatment. Holding hands, rubbing their backs and stroking their hair broke down the language barrier and calmed their fears as most of them had never seen a dentist before.
Another unique aspect of our trip is the sterilization process that has been developed. A dear and talented friend reconstructed a large pressure cooker into a fully functional autoclave. We used three, continually running, butane-heated autoclaves to keep sterile instruments available.
Because of the generosity of many friends, families and organizations like the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, we are able to take very necessary dental and medical supplies to serve the needs of the dear people of Ethiopia.
Multiple things impact the lives of those that participate in EthiopiaSmile trips. The joy that radiates from faces of the patients we treat, in spite of their dire circumstances, is infectious. The team of almost perfect strangers operating together, with a common purpose and goal is inspiring. It’s a beautiful thing for a dentist to step in, graciously care for patients in a less than ideal setting with limited resources to do what he or she knows how to do. It’s just as beautiful seeing an engineer, stay-at-home mom, salesman, grandmother or teenager work outside of their comfort zone as an assistant or patient buddy. All in the spirit of love, being the hands and feet of God to these dear people.
Traveling to Ethiopia has a way of changing you, putting the stresses and cares of this world in perspective, helping break out of the small world we live in to see a larger world full of needs, needs we have been blessed to be able to meet – at least in some small way.
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