Today is day two of the second week of clinic. Jim had an idea yesterday that we should stop at one of the schools that we pass along the way and do a little dental education and hand out toothbrushes. It was a lot of fun, and a really eye opening experience.
We arrived at what is snack time for the kids. There were several tables set up outside with snacks for them to buy. Every thing was candy, chips, and sugary drinks! Everything! Every child had a handful of candy. I had heard someone from the education team talk about this, but I had no idea the extent. Here we are to give out tooth brushes, and they are trading me handfuls of candy – which, I secretly enjoyed as well ;) I got to walk around their classrooms and see what they were learning. Each class had a large partitioned area and lessons on the board seemed to be on par with what kids in the States are learning. I think the visit was fun for the kids too. They were super excited when we got there, and immediately open and loving and trusting. I don’t think they have ever seen too many white people. I had a lot of boys and girls touching my skin and my hair. As I was walking through the school and the playground area I would feel little hands grasping mine and swinging along. It was all very touching. They were so expressive and hardly a shy child to be found. Along with not seeing too many white folk I don’t think they had ever met anyone who was Asian. They found Lok to be of particular interest. They were at first following him around referring to him as the Chinnaman, and then as Jackie Chan. He got a kick out of and had fun busting out some Karate Kid for the kids. What an amazing, bright, loving, energetic group of our future!
Today I only saw a few patients, and the procedure of the day was restoring #’s 8&9. These are the most rewarding procedures for me. First of all the patients are all really nervous, well, most of them, say a high 90 percentile are really nervous. Second, they have decay or stain that is impeding their smile. I think that smiling is important for anyone around the world, but it is particularly important for a Jamaican. Again, the full of life and love and laughter quality.
My second patient fell into the category of really, really scared, and really ashamed to have decay and discoloration on her front teeth. Leslie did a fabulous job going slowly, explaining the procedure, and restoring #’s 7&8. The whole thing took a lot longer than planed; restorative materials set differently in the heat and humidity here, so there were a few repairers to be made after the initial restoration. The result was worth the wait. The woman had tears of joy in her eyes, and a HUGE smile on her face. She hugged us all and thanked us profusely. She said that she was so proud to be herself again, and that she would never stop smiling. This warmed me to no end. I love smiling. I think my smile is my finest asset. I could not imagine being ashamed of it, and that shame ruling my outward appearance and mirroring to my internal emotions. I am so happy for her, and so glad to be a part of it!
Today I am so thankful for Papa Joe, Great Shape, Inc. Mama G and the other founding members, LIS for helping promote the fabulousness that is this fine, fine project and all of the volunteers that make this thing happen. Today we changed lives. My own included. Thank you!