Thursday, September 21, 2017

Smiles in Malaysia

Greetings from Malaysia!  

We are well into our dental trip in Malaysia and having a great week so far!  Similar to many of the developing countries we've been to, there are GREAT needs for dental care.  Most of the people we are seeing have never seen a dentist before and the average age of patients we're seeing is 52.  That's a long time without seeing a dentist.

We started out on the east coast of Western Malaysia, treating the Orang Asli jungle tribes and on Tuesday moved our clinic to another village not the west side of Western Malaysia.  The people here are very shy by nature, but warm up easily when they see that they can trust us.  Like other trips, we have had equipment challenges and power issues, but we have seen many patients.  Oral health is a major issue here in Malaysia from a young age due to sugar and oral beetle nut.

Our local guides are so amazing, helping us translate, travel, and understand the culture.  Enjoy a few glimpses of our time here.  Thank you for continued prayers for us as we go into the second chunk of this trip and bring more smiles to Malaysia!

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 2017 Haiti Trip Recap

There simply aren't enough hours in the day while we're in Haiti.  We saw between 60-80+ patients each day, doing 2-5 procedures each.  It is a full time job to just keep the lines and crowds under control.  60 Percent of the patients we saw had never seen the dentist before and most are dealing with major oral healthy issues as a result.  While we were focused on fixing the immediate problems, we also had a few moments to help educate the locals on regular oral health habits that they can go back and teach their families.

This tip was special because we had a few different local Haitians join us.  We were honored to have Dr. Jean Louis work with us.  He is a professor at the dental school and a working physician as well.  We also had Dr. Etienne Guichard, a new Dental School Graduate!    Dr. Renol Clerge joined us toward the end.  He is a young Haitian dentist and faculty in the Oral Surgery Department at the dental school.  We were so blessed to have these locals who not only knew the language (BIG PLUS), but also knew dentistry.

Throughout the week, power was an issue, and even septic/sewer systems were down at times.  Our equipment was spotty at best, with our compressor needing to be "fixed" after each patient.  But, it made it through the week!

A sobering part of our trip was talking with a local leader, who works within the Underground Railroad in Haiti.  He identifies and jails groups involved in the child sex trafficking battle.

We also got to visit the orphanage in St. Roch and the farmland in St. Roch that will help feed the village there.

This dental trip was a lot of work.  We ran low on supplies and ran 14 hours days on average, but it was incredibly rewarding. The people, the culture...such a blessing!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Build It and They Will Come!

We’ve had an amazing trip so far!  We set up our clinic and were blessed to have a Haitian dentist with us!  This is amazing because he speaks the language of the people and of dentistry!  Dr. Jean Louis is a doctor and faculty at both schools and he has a great heart for the people!  We also had a brand new graduate join us this week in our clinic too.  We’re so blessed on this trip!

Most of the patients we’ve treated have never been to a dentist before.  We’ve saw over 70 patients on our first day!  Periodontal disease is running rampant here, but the people are so grateful to have someone here to help. 

Haiti is such a different world.  We met a new friend tonight who is an Underground Railroad leader here in Haiti.  Haiti is #3 in the world for human trafficking.  We’re so thankful we have connections here on the ground who know more of how to help with this major issue!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 2017: Exciting Trip to Haiti

It's been a super 48 hours as we got ready for yet another trip to Haiti!  Last night we traveled to Miami and arrived in Port-au-Prince about mid-morning Thursday.

Today, we have an important meeting with the dean of the University of Haiti Dental School, Dr. Samuel Prophete.  We have collected many important dental items from fellow dentists, corporations, and well-wishers to give to the dental school. Thank you to all who have helped us bless them!

Next stop after this is to set up a clinic in the center of Port-au-Prince.  We'll be seeing many, many people in our dental clinic.  Long days, but rewarding days ahead!

We're dedicating this trip to Gary and Deb Rolph who were in a serious motorcycle accident six months ago.  Gary and Deb both serve on the board of Believe in Haiti and Gary had his first moments back in Colorado yesterday afternoon after recovering for many months at a rehab center in Omaha.  They are instrumental in the caring of hundreds of people and we are so excited to have them back home in Colorado!  We're thinking of you, Gary and Deb, while we're down here in Haiti this week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Strategic Trip To Haiti

Chuck, Beau, and I traveled to Haiti last week for a very short, but important trip.  We arrived Monday and settled in.  This was a strange trip for me, as we didn’t take any dental equipment and didn’t have plans to see any patients.  This trip was a planning trip, which is equally important for the longterm success of Believe in Haiti and improving overall health in St. Roch.

Day 1
We journeyed to the University of Haiti Dental School in Downtown Port Au Prince.  Thanks to the American Dental Association Foundation and leaders of International Humanitarian Dental Service, I got to meet the Dean of the School, Dr. Prophete.  We met at length about the needs of the school, the current program, and opportunities to partner.

We got a great welcome from the dental school and got a great tour of the clinic, classrooms, library, student facilities, and dental surgical areas.  The dental school is the only one in Haiti and is highly competitive.  We discussed opportunities for fourth or fifth year students to join in with our dental teams in April and October.  

We currently have a list of clinical items that would be helpful for the dental school:  things like impression materials, dental curing lights, surgical forceps, and more.  If you would like to learn how you can help the dental school out, please contact me for more details.

We also met with the architect and builders in town for the community center in St. Roch.  We are hopeful that within the next week and a half we’ll have bids from local construction builders, which will help us know the realistic timeline for the building to be completed. We got to walk the future site for the Hope Community Center and see even more of the vision for what is to come!

Day 2
We met with the local Believe in Haiti board members.  There are seven amazing Haitians, ranging from age 26-45, each with a strong commitment to improve Haiti.  They gave significant input and we were able to make some strategic decisions.  Believe in Haiti is doing everything it can to be helpful, but also relevant to the local culture.  Having American AND Local boards helps to give that well-rounded perspective. 

Day 3
One of the great things about this trip is that we are connecting with the St. Roch Foundation, a group that has been serving St. Roch with dental care for fifteen years now.  They have recorded more than 37,000 medical visits in their service to Haiti.  It was an honor to get to meet them!

The St. Roch Foundation is based in Boston, MA, but has local leadership from Haitian physician Dr. Eloy.  They have a dental clinic with a full and part-time dentist.  They also have a blood studies lab, pharmacy, and other support services as well.  We got to observe the daily clinical procedures and made a lot of new friends, including four dentists doing a trip from Tufts University to help supplement Dr. Eloy’s team.

This trip was strategic in a lot of ways.  We had a huge construction focus with Beau leading the charge with the local architect and construction crews.  We had deliberate time with our local board to plan and get to know each other more.  And, we had time to make strategic partnerships with the dental school and the St. Roch Haiti Foundation, which will allow all of our efforts to be even more impactful in the future.  Thanks so much for staying in contact with what we are doing down in Haiti.  We look forward to some cool things from our upcoming dental trip in April!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Haiti... Exciting news update!

Haiti... Exciting news update!

In 2016 we journeyed several times to do dental work in Port-Au-Prince & Gressier, Haiti. We worked with two different organizations, Believe in Haiti & Respire Haiti. One of those organizations, Believe in Haiti, for whom I serve on the board as Medical/Health Director, has requested a last-minute trip next week and it’s super exciting! 

Believe in Haiti has been working in St. Roch to build a Community Center. We had plans drawn up for the building. The local government recently approved it! Next Tuesday, January 24, myself, Justin Henwood (Co-Founder of Believe in Haiti), Chuck my brother, & Beau my son will meet with a local architect and different construction groups. The building will break ground this February and be completed in fall 2017.

This is HUGE for the local community!

 The Hope Community Center is being built for Computer, Sewing, English, and Cooking classes, as well as for educational and economic opportunities. Local crops can be canned in this building. The village will have their first oven for the entire community! The lower floor of the Hope Community Center is designed to be used as a Health and Dental Clinic!

This Sunday, January 22, Justin Henwood, Chuck, Beau, and myself travel to Haiti for 4 days. Justin and Beau will provide the construction leadership as we meet in Port-Au-Prince and up the mountain in St. Roch with architects, local builders, and construction support people. 

On Monday afternoon I will have the privilege of meeting with Dr. Samuel Prophete, Dean of The University of Haiti Dental School. Thanks to my friends at the American Dental Association Foundation, leaders of International Humanitarian Dental Service, who helped make this meeting possible. Dr. Prophete seems to be very friendly! Our goal is to involve local dentists in our service.

In addition, we will meet with four dentists from the Boston area working with and for the St. Roch Foundation. Two Haitian dentists work with them now. It is a miracle that we will all be in Haiti together. Coordinated efforts will be to everyone’s benefit. We will meet with the St. Roch Foundation’s leadership that’s will be in country.

This is my first trip to Haiti without dental patient responsibilities  It’s a short trip, but an important trip from a strategic perspective. I’m excited to see more of the vision of how we can impact Haiti long term and help the community flourish.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Haiti Trip Recap: November 2016

We got back last week from our most recent trip to Haiti.  It was a whirlwind of a time (still settling back in) because we left 48 hours after our Evening For Cause Event.  The timing was incredible to be in Haiti as we were only an hour north of the hardest hit part of the island.  

Haiti has many challenges ahead with the recent hurricane effects.  Numerous self-sustaining agrarian villages have lost all of their animals and their crops.  A Cholera outbreak is underway.  Violence has deterred many aid workers from coming to help.  Planes, canoes, and even aid supply boats have been robbed and/or mobbed. The military operations that were down there helping have left.  It's extremely challenging to get aid to those who need it the most.  

Our trip was focused around dental (two locations, five treatment days total), but we also brought the largest supply of antibiotics we’ve ever taken internationally.  We’re hoping it is helping for those who are getting them.  Of the 300 patients we cared for this visit, as well as the hundreds from the last trip, 99 percent needed some form of care (urgent and/or important).  In truth, we examined only three patients that did not need treatment.  They simply accept life without dental care and suffer.

It was a great time being back with Respire Haiti and Megan & Josh in Gressier. We helped serve their 509 students who are mostly all rescued Restaveks (child slaves). They also have many special needs children in their school as well. Many of these children desperately needed treatment and it was rewarding to be able to help. It was also a special trip because we were able to see a few kids we helped last time!

The other half of our trip was with Believe In Haiti.  A few exciting things developed while we were with Believe In Haiti.  One big thing is that a local board for Believe in Haiti has been developed.  We now have seven amazing and effective Haitian leaders who share the vision!  We also met a man named Wayne, a Canadian leader for MeraFoods, who employs 3600 Haitian small farmers.  I believe there are opportunities to work together and he was very interested in what our dental team was doing.  Further, we were able to treat many, many more patients, many who had never been to a dentist.  There are healthier smiles in Haiti!  

The momentum from Evening For Cause is immense.  We were able to raise over $10,000 that night, but have had numerous people step up and express interest in supporting these organizations in not just financial ways, but physical ways as well.  There are groups stepping up to serve with our local partners and bringing others along as well.  Others have become regular financial partners too.  The event gave us momentum as we went into our trip in Haiti as well.  

We have scheduled our next trip for April 2017.  We have great ideas of how to make the trips better and more effective.  If you would like to learn more about how you can help us prepare for this trip, I would love to talk with you!

Thank you for your support for Evening For Cause, and for our recent trip to Haiti!