The dental mission is to create sustainable improvement to the lives of people in need by connecting them with professionals who are eager to donate their time, expertise, and skills.
The utilization of these unique abilities ultimately assists others in places where we can make a significant difference and provide a sustainable impact.
Background information on the mission
The underserved indigenous population in rural areas of Guatemala are in desperate need of dental care. Many causes of death and sickness are preventable. Unfortunately, many indigenous people do not have access to any resources for a variety of reasons, including accessibility, language barriers, and poor government management of the healthcare system.
Initially, volunteer days in the mountains would begin by packing the dental and medical supplies and instruments, anesthetic, and medications and jumping into the back of a pick-up truck for the drive even further up the mountain. The travel is up winding rough gravel roads through the most breathtaking parts of the Guatemalan Mountains. Along the way the scenic views are incredible,however, the poverty is equally profound. Mostly children and women waited for hours in the sun, to be treated in makeshift clinics with only the supplies and equipment they were able to physically carry into the villages.
The development of The Center of Hope provided a much welcomed location to provide these services in a more central location. Each day, the dental volunteers treat children with severely decayed and infected teeth in makeshift clinics at the Center. The adult conditions are equally disturbing. Many of these people go to bed each night with severe toothaches and with no hope of relief, treatment, or medications.
The objective is to bring dental volunteers to this area on a more regular basis for sustainability and prevention. Our efforts have made a difference, but there is still much work to be done.
That endeavor has taken a huge leap forward by the planned construction of a true dental clinic in the town of Valencia, with the potential to serve 40,000 people in need from the surrounding villages. We are grateful that some contributions have been made which will enable us to begin building this more accessible stationary clinic. We will now be able to host more frequent groups of travel dentists allowing us to serve more people in need with more sustained care.
The Mayan people reside in adobe huts with mud floors. Families of 8, 10, and more people live in 1 or 2 rooms. Children are dying of respiratory problems from wood burning stoves used in poorly ventilated homes.
Children having children with no hope of changing their lives, because they do not know any better and no way to get off the mountain. On the faces of children you can see the excitement at the expectation of receiving a gift. The adults have a stoic look of acceptance.
Volunteers return with an appreciation of their own lives and the experience that comes from getting to know the gentle, loving, and compassionate people of Guatemala. This experience truly has an impact that lasts forever.