One of our goals at Riverside Dental Care is to be involved in the community and do our part to give back. We have had great success with our annual free dental day. We are just getting ready for our 6th annual Dentistry from the heart coming up on March 8th. We have completed a couple of dramatic smile makeovers for needy individuals this year as well.
I want to share with you the incredible experience that I had on my recent humanitarian trip to Haiti. Last November I went with Dr. Scott Bulloch, an Oral Surgeon in St. George and a small group of volunteers to provide dental care to rural communities in Haiti. The trip was organized by a small grassroots organization called Sionfonds for Haiti.
Sionfonds for Haiti has been working for the last ten years helping Haitian children and their families, to gain the tools they need: education, employment, nutrition, access to medical and dental care.
Sionfonds supports more than 800 students in schools placed in remote communities. Over the past 8 years they have constructed school houses, and provided the administrators and teaches for the schools. The privilege to attend school which traditionally is available only to those wealthy enough to afford is a big deal for these little children. They are very proud of the fact that they are learning how to read. Educating these children will give them a chance to become leaders in their community
Our involvement this trip was traveling to each of the schools and provide as much dental care to as many of the children as time provided. This was the first time we were able to provide restorative and preventative care other than emergency care such as extracting teeth. We want to try to fix the cavities on children before they lead to pain and infection.
The three schools that we worked in are located in remote areas and have no water or electricity. Modern dentistry can be quite difficult when you are trying to bring a portable clinic that can fit in a suitcase. One of the schools that we worked in was located midway up a mountain. The only access to the the village was a 2 mile hike up a steep narrow trail. When we reached the base of the trail we were met by a group of school children and a pack mule. It was very uplifting to watch this group of eleven year old children energetically pack all of our supplies up the mountain and set up a makeshift clinic in their school rooms.
It is quite frustrating to have such limited resources in the midst of such great need. The dental problems that these isolated children have is overwhelming and discouraging. I have to still remind myself that we were able to help individual people and it made a difference to each of them. These remote communities will not see any health care until we return next year.
I am encouraged that such a small group can make such a big difference. It may take a generation to see the change in the lives of the people there.
If you are interrested in donating to the sionfonds orgainzation go to their web site www.sionfondsforhaiti.org Funding a project or sponsoring a child is a great way to help. This is a small organization and any amount of aid goes a long way. I am very proud to be involved in an organization that is actively working to create a better life for these children today and for generations to come.