This week, three dentists and two hygienists from Aspen Dental offices are volunteering in Haiti to provide free dental care to Haitians in the town of Jacmel.
Moved by the devastation in Haiti in the aftermath of the island’s January 2010 earthquake, the team is offering their time to help address the fact that there is just one dentist per 100,000 people.
Leading the team is Dr. Chedly Schatzie Vincent, owner of two Aspen Dental practices in Fairfield and Norwalk, Connecticut.
Here’s an update from Dr. Vincent on Day 1 of her experience of bringing Smiles for Haiti:
We knew that we would be working with the underserved when we decided to volunteer our time to give free oral care to the communities here in Jacmel, Haiti. In fact, 80% of Haiti is considered poor, with a majority of the population living below the poverty line. It is very difficult for Haitians to have access to the proper health care.
The five of us made the long trek from the northeastern U.S. to Port au Prince, Haiti, with thousands of units in supplies, packed tightly in over a dozen large boxes. We have everything we need for general hygiene care and preventative dentistry, including kits for tooth extractions and fillings, portable X-Ray machines, gauze, needles, sutures, and antibiotics, thanks to the support we’ve received from Henry Schein, the world’s largest provider of products and services to dental practitioners.
After arriving at Port au Prince, we made the 3-hour drive to Jacmel. Through Restore Haiti, we are set up at a neighborhood clinic to administer full dental and oral treatment to Haitians living in the surrounding small towns. Restore Haiti helped us get connected with local lodging and transportation. Once settled, we began preparing for the morning’s travel and work. This included transporting the boxes of supplies from the hotel to the clinic.
These towns generally don’t have power or the stable water systems that we are used to in the U.S. but we are making the most with what we are given in order to provide the proper dental care.
The island is vibrant and beautiful, but Haitians do not have access to the same resources that people may have in other developing countries. In addition to the oral treatments, extractions and fillings we expect to administer, we are prepared to also provide plenty of oral care education.
What we might take for granted, Haitians are hungry to learn about. And we are delighted to be able to provide our services.
We’ll be posting more updates from the Aspen Dental volunteer team in the coming days. Check back for more blog posts and photos!
© 2012, Kasey P.. All rights reserved.