In February, 2014 our group of health care professionals performed an oral health mission in Loitokitok, Kenya, on the southeastern border of the country, next to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The group consisted of Dr. Maureen Valley and Dr. Johny Surenkov, from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA, Mr. Samson Saigilu from the Kenyan Ministry of Health, and Mr. Benson Leshan and Mr. John Nina from Loitokitok Kenya. Over a two week period, the Loitokitok Oral Health Project focused on oral health education in nine of the most remote and underserved communities in southern Kenya, mainly in the famous Maasai-land. The goals of the project were to educate on preventive measures and nutrition, to collect baseline data, and to distribute toothbrushes and toothpaste among school-aged children and adults. Thanks to Henry Schein Cares Foundation the team was able to serve hundreds of people, most of whom had never received dental care before in their lives. It was a joy to hear the many thanks from the grateful Maasai people and to see their happy faces. On behalf of the entire community, we are so grateful for the generosity from Henry Schein Cares Foundation.
“Every tooth in a mans’ head is more valuable than a diamond” – Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote,1605.
The U.S. can boast to have the best dental care in the world, yet millions are not able to obtain this care. Individuals who are low-income, racial or ethnic minorities, older adults, those with special needs, or those that live in rural communities have a much more difficult time accessing dental care. Dental Decay is not only one of the most common diseases in the world it is also one of the most preventable. The issue of lack of dental care to those in need is growing exponentially, it is essential and a human right to avoid pain, infection, tooth loss, and other problems which can cause complications with other health issues a patient may be facing.
On February 23, 2014 Dr. Amy Nabi , of Dr. Amy’s Dental Office in Thousand Oaks Ca., in partnership with Dentistry From the Heart, a world wide non profit organization, hosted their very first Dentistry From the Heart event. On this day we were lucky enough to have Dr. Amy Nabi, Dr. Greg Urfrig a local Oral Surgeon, a hygenist, several Registered Dental Assistants, Dental Assistants, front office staff and non dental professional individuals from the community come together to offer a day of free dentistry for persons in the community that were in need of quality dental treatment.
We are pleased to announce that we were able to serve over 100 patients this day with services varying from dental exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, and extractions. The majority of people we saw were suffering from some form of periodontal disease with rampant caries. We definitely kept our hygienist busy this day.
With the decline of the economy in our community we have seen many patients who have lost their homes, jobs and in turn their health insurance. By embracing the spirit of giving we can make this a healthy and happy future for our communities.
We would like to give special thanks to the following:
- Dr. Amy Nabi of Dr. Amy’s Dental Office www.dramysdental.com
- Dr. Greg Urfrig of Agoura Hills Oral Surgery www.agourahillsoralsurgery.com
- Susan Suval Registered Dental Hygienist
- Christiane Craig RDA/OMSA/ Event organizer
- All of our dental and non dental volunteers
- Henry Schein for their supply donation
- Walmart for their monetary donation
- Costco who donated lunch to our staff of volunteers
Project Healthy Smile creates sustainable oral health programs for underprivileged children globally. These programs focus on preventative care by providing oral health education and dental supplies. In January 2014, PHS went on a mission in Africa working with Meeting Point Kampala and TAFCOM. Thanks to the Henry Schein Cares Foundation PHS was able to provide oral health kits and fluoride treatments to many children in need!
For more information please visit www.projecthealthysmile.org.
On January 11-18, 2014, our group of 15 missionaries went to help at the BeLikeBrit Orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti. This was during the 4 year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed Britney Gengel, then a 19 year old college student on a Lynn University-sponsored mission trip to Haiti. Her parents subsequently built and run this orphanage in her memory, since it was her last request before her sudden tragic death.
The group consisted of Vicki Kvedar, MD, an ophthalmologist, and her 22 year old daughter, Julie, who graduated from Vanderbilt University and hopes to become a physician some day. The rest of the missionaries helped build a house for a family living in the neighborhood of the orphanage. The family consists of a mother with 9 children, living in a shack made from tree branches and tarps. On each mission, medical personnel must accompany the group, since there is no one at the orphanage to take care of medical problems that occur.
The orphanage currently houses 38 children, but the goal is to open it up to a total of 66 children by the end of 2014. There are 40 adult employees, most of them Haitian, who work in various capacities such as cooks, laundry, janitor, child care, social work, security, bus driver, plumber, teachers, soccer coaches, etc.
While the rest of our group was building a house, Dr. Vicki Kvedar and Julie did complete eye exams on every child and adult in the orphanage. We also spent 2 mornings in the Mission of Hope medical clinic down the street from the orphanage. There we came across some interesting eye and medical problems such as glaucoma from hypermature cataracts, high fever from malaria or typhoid, pterygia, bacterial conjunctivitis, abdominal masses, irritated eyes from garbage being constantly burned throughout the country, neurofibromatosis, and many people with a need for something as simple as a pair of glasses. In the orphanage, we discovered several people with glaucoma, including the 3 year old child of the family who we were building the house for. We were able to figure out who needed glasses and what prescriptions they needed. Then we fit them with used, donated glasses that we had labeled and brought down with us.There were many cases of scraped elbows, blisters, colds, fevers, etc. that are bound to occur during any week with that many people around. They were treated with donated supplies from Henry Schein Cares Foundation. Unfortunately, the most severe cases requiring surgery could not be properly treated because we did not have an operating room available. We did the best we could do with what supplies were donated and available to us. For the glaucoma patients, that meant giving them eyedrops that would hopefully lower their eye pressure.
At the Mission of Hope clinic, Haitians waited hours in line in the 90 degree sun to see us, and when we ran out of time, they came back the next day. They were most polite and appreciative of whatever we did to help them. When we took a picture of the people waiting patiently in line, many of them ducked their heads because they are afraid someone will perform voodoo on them if they have a photograph.
We received hugs and thank yous and smiles from the appreciative patients. Most of these people had never been seen by a physician before, and certainly not an ophthalmologist.
Articles about this trip appeared in the January 29, 2014 issues of Lynnfield Villager and Melrose Weekly News (Massachusetts).
We would like to thank Henry Schein Cares Foundation for their most generous donation of medical supplies to BeLikeBrit orphanage. Although not all the supplies were used on the week that we went down, they are now filling the cabinets of the new medical clinic in this new orphanage, which has only been admitting children for a year. There is no doubt that all the supplies will be used and appreciated by those living in BeLikeBrit orphanage over the coming years.← Older posts