Smiles Forever

The Smiles Forever mission is to break the cycle of poverty by vocationally training young indigenous women to be dental hygienists in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We recognize women as the first socialization factor in the family. Enabling them to become financially self-sufficient, we are both creating female community leaders and bettering the lives of their children. Students give back to their community by providing free dental care at the school, burn center and rural communities.
Jun 27, 2014

YouthSpark Challenge Ignites Donors: We Benefit!

Adela at Burn Center giving Dental Treatment
Adela at Burn Center giving Dental Treatment

Smiles Forever's projects all benefit from Microsoft Corporation's summer matching funds "contests."

Our parent project "Send a Homeless Bolivian Woman to School for a Year (#7925 ranked a respectable 411th out of 14,294 overall projects), and our current micro-projects:  "Sonia's Road: From Orphan to Dental Professional" (#17037 ranked an amazing 13th out of 14,294 Global Giving total projects) & "Give Aracelly Dental Training to Escape Servitude" (#17502 ranked a stellar 94th out of same 14,294 projects) all earned matching funding.

Recounting the Wild Giving Flurry of Matching Day:

A simple 100% YouthSpark matching day flared up quickly to bonfire proportions.  In case you haven't heard, the June challenge broke the record for sizzling speed--donations came in so rapidly that the $200,000 in funds provided by Microsoft was consumed in just over 5 minutes.  It was a true conflagration as human hearts spoke with the fire of their passion for favorite organizations which benefit not only Bolivia's, but the world's youth.

There is no way of expressing fully how important YouthSpark's gift will be towards starting up this fall's Dental Hygienist school's operations.  We will be not only welcoming our new students, but also welcoming back our 2nd year students.

Hearing Our Student's Stories:

You've met our students Sonia (#17037), Aracelly (#17502), Adela ("Share Adela's Dream/ Hone Dental Hygienist Skills" (#16713), and Lucy ("Send Lucy to Bolivian Hygienist School for a Year" #15212).  The way YouthSpark projects work is they stay active for 90 days or until fully funded, then they are "Retired."

Now meet Fabila ("Fund Fabila's Future with Dental Hygienist School" #17592 ranked 36th).  Fabila's story is one of turning a life of despair and neglect into one of promise and purpose.

Recognizing our Contributors Big & Small:

While the dollar goes far in Bolivia, it is nevertheless often stretched thin.  To launch our school, we relied on a small donor base back home in the states, but increasingly the answer is our world-wide donor pool.

 Sincerest thanks to our individual donors like you, and please allow us to add:

Thank you Microsoft YouthSpark and Global Giving!

May 1, 2014

Sonja Excells: Dental School Graduate's Success

Sonja Sagari with Smiles Forever
Sonja Sagari with Smiles Forever's Sandy Kemper

Sonja's Story:  Five Years After Graduating from Smiles Forever's Dental Hygienist Bolivian School

Sonja Sagare graduated from Smiles Forever's Dental Hygienist school five years ago with honors and many good wishes bestowed.  She is a bright woman with a bright future & a bright & beautiful smile.  Since her graduation, Sonja has worked as a dental hygienist for one of the leading dental clinics in Cochabamba, with the esteemed Dr. Rocha.

Furthering Sonja's Studies:

Sonja also has been trying to study at the dental school, Universidad Mayor de San Simon, in Cochabamba, Bolivia. 

Sonja Teaching Dental Hygienist Skills to Our Current Students:

Since it is challenging to work full time and attend dental school, Sonja has decided to give back to Smiles Forever by working part time in the hygiene program teaching the dental assisting skills she learned at Dr. Rocha's office.

Saving $ and Giving Back Time:

Sonja will be saving every last penny for dental school and is currently looking for a sponsor.  Sonja also is involved in the Dental Hygiene Society of Cochabamba, and spent last weekend working in the rural community of Uspha providing sealants and tooth brushing skills to over 300 school children.

Sonja's Humble Background:

Sonja came from humble beginnings.  She lost both parents at an early age, and was raised by her older sister until age seven.  Her sister, fearful she'd lose Sonja, taught her at home in the evenings.  Then Sonja lived at Madre de Dios (women's shelter) most of her teenage years before attending Smiles Forever's dental hygienist training program.

Trees Aglow in Bolivia
Trees Aglow in Bolivia
Party at Children
Party at Children's Burn Center in Bolivia
Feb 3, 2014

Dental Hygienist Students Pass Extensive Exams

Dental Hygienist Students Pass Exam Hurdle

Our students prepared for their muy dificil exams with  much enthusiasm, as well as unavoidable apprehension.

After a grueling six hours (mercifully divided into 3-hour testing windows), the students all triumphed over multiple choice questions, the task of detailing clinical cases, and those dreaded essay questions. 

Hands-on Exam Section

Then each student was required to have a difficult cleaning patient for the clinical exam.  Students prepared their patients by taking x-rays, and from those films and from careful observation, assessing the patient's dental needs.  A medical history was taken to complete the picture.

Further Experience Required

Even though the students have passed their exams, they must continue to complete requirements such as cleaning the teeth of 50 patients.  The standards are very high at this Bolivian school.  A program this intense prepares the students according to professional standards elsewhere in the world. 

14 Years of Teaching a Marketable Skill to Young Women

For our friends and supporters at Global Giving, we thank you for helping the lives of these young women change dramatically.  For over a dozen years, our graduates have become more confident and continue to work as true professionals.  We even have a student going on to be a dentist, and what an accomplishment that is!

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