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.
We have a meet-up group that goes to MLK and 3rd street in Detroit, MI and we pass out items to the homeless. On our most recent trip we were able to pass out hygiene kits to many of our “street peeps”. The hygiene kits are very often their first request above food or anything. With the generosity of the Henry Schein Cares foundation we were able to add toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss to our kits. We rely on the goodness of companies like this to help the less fortunate. Thank you so much for your donations and additions to our mission!!!
Our group was based in Chacraseca, Nicaragua but we ended up serving multiple communities in the area of Leon, Nicaragua. This was due to the fact that the clinic in Chacraseca had recently received help and supplies from another medical mission group, and other clinics were in more desperate need of aid. On Monday we drove about an hour to a small community clinic in the town of Puerto Sandino, where we saw 54 patients and provided medications we possessed or recommended ones we did not have in stock. Many of the patients had hypertension so new reliable blood pressure cuffs were invaluable in checking BP’s. The clinic was very poorly supplied and it was very valuable having both large adult sizes as well as small adult and pediatric cuff sizes to allow us to obtain accurate blood pressures. Other common problems we came across were upper respiratory infections, where the otoscopes were also invaluable as we encountered many ear infections as well as some cases of strep throat. Many of the patients were diabetics and the physician and PA’s who traveled with us used the ophthalmoscopes to check for diabetic changes occurring in the retina and taught us what we should be looking for. Unfortunately access to medications and health care is very limited in Nicaragua so we were limited in what we were able to do for patients suffering many complications from chronic problems such as diabetes. We tried our best to educate these patients about their various diseases and what they could do to improve their health. Our second day we traveled to a community church in La Gloria outside of Puerto Sandino where we saw another 50 patients with similar health ailments. On Wednesday we returned to the clinic in Puerto Sandino and saw another 40 patients. On Thursday we traveled even further to another community church in Miramar to provide healthcare to a population of patients who had very limited access to healthcare, where we saw 66 patients, again with ailments similar to previous days such as diabetes, hypertension, URI’s and UTI’s. Many of the patients we saw were malnourished so we provided adult or pediatric multivitamins to most patients we evaluated. On our last day we traveled to another community clinic outside of Leon in La Leona, where we evaluated 78 patients, many of whom were pediatric patients as the clinic was located very close to a local school. Neither of the health clinics we visited had functioning thermometers so the thermometer you provided was extremely helpful as we were able to accurately determine whether our patients were febrile, as most people felt warm and diaphoretic in the 95-100 degree heat. The clinic we worked out of in Puerto Sandino on Monday and Wednesday was the most poorly supplied, so that is where we donated the medications, otoscope/Opthalmoscope, and other suppliest. On Friday morning we were able to go to a school near the clinic and worked with a local dentist to teach kids about dental hygiene. They were so excited. A toothbrush makes a huge difference for them and having dental floss and toothpaste was an irreplaceable gift to them. All of the supplies provided were invaluable in providing medical care to communities around Leon, Nicaragua, and will continue to aid health care workers in providing much needed health care to the underserved population of Nicaragua.