Shoreline Dental Hygiene Students Study Abroad with Smiles Forever
Smiles Forever and the Dental Hygiene Program from Shoreline Community College in Seattle, Washington united for a Study Abroad program with the dental hygiene students in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The mission was one where the exchange of educational and cultural information was emphasized.
For seventeen days the students worked together in various community service projects. The mission was to stop the progression of dental disease, Caries or Cavities, and to provide preventative skills to the community. All 398 school-age children in the village of Morochatta were surveyed identifying either teeth with cavities which could be saved, or teeth that were so diseased that extraction was necessary.
In collaboration with one U.S. dentist and three Bolivian dentists from Cochabamba, seventy-seven teeth were pulled. The students then received an application of a new fluoride product that stops the progression of decay in its tracks!
Preventative Treatment Significant in Remote Areas
This preventative fluoride treatment will not only be helpful to individuals, but it could prove to be the revolutionary way to give the best care in similar remote areas. Twenty students had such severe decay that they were placed on medication and will need future treatment. All the students and their teachers, and many of the parents, received instruction about preventing dental disease.
Then the collaborative efforts of the Shoreline dental hygiene students and the Cochabamba students used this same model to help thirty children at the Viedma Burn Shelter. The Smiles Forever sponsored school for hygienists pledges to return to these community service projects on a regular basis.
Hygienist trainees, Graduates and Faculty Bonded
Everyone involved in these service projects bonded. It was an extraordinary trip and learning experience. An official meeting was held for the graduates of the Cochabamba, Bolivian hygienist school. One wish expressed was that U.S. hygienists could help educate Bolivian dentists about the value of a skilled hygienist as an intregal part of a dental treatment team.
These are exciting times at the Dental Hygiene Clinic in Cochabamba with our students all passing their final practical exams, with our community project serving 300 children in Morochata becoming a reality, and with our new preparations underway to work with the children from the Viedma Burn Center for Children in Cochabama.
For the past month Smiles Forever students have been completing their final practical exams in Dental Hygiene. All students have passed with flying colors. As director, I have seen a noticeable change in self-confidence in these young women in the last few weeks I have been working with them. All students are currently employed or putting together resumes for employment.
We are particularly proud of Gobanna Dorado, seen here in the photo with a patient in our fee for service clinic. Prior to being in the program, Gobanna was working in Cochabamba's public market selling vegetables. Now Gobanna will be working in the mornings aiding the professor at the Smiles Forever teaching Clinic that serves over 6,000. In the afternoon, Gobanna will work in private practice.
Before graduation students and staff will visit Morochata for our community service project. We will provide preventative care to 300 school children and prepare them for restorative treatment with dentists and hygienists from the U.S. and from the Smiles Forever Dental Team here.
Preparations continue for adding the Viedma Burn Center for Children in Cochabamba to benefit our community in a special way.
The lives of all our students have changed so dramatically, and our patients having access to dental care has made such a difference in their lives, too.
Sincere warm greetings from Bolivia, Sandy Kemper Founder & Director of Smiles Forever
Smiles Forever Founder, Sandy Kemper, who was motivated over 10 years ago to do something for the indigenous homeless Bolivian women, is excited to be once again back at the dental hygienist school. She's sharing her enthusiasm with each and every student, and naturally also sharing her expertise from being years in the dental hygiene field herself.
What makes this a special time for Sandy is that she is reunited with her family, including her incredibly cute adopted three-year-old son. This brave little fellow has nearly finished a series of surgeries to correct cleft palate. One of the outreach programs of this Bolivian project is to educate women about vitamin deficiencies that may cause birth defects. A goal of the project has always been to use education to improve healthcare and family stability in the extended community of Cochibamba, Bolivia.
This week Clarissa Driban from the GlobalGiving Washington, D.C. office will be visiting the Smiles Forever's "Send a Homeless Woman to School for a Year" project based in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Program Director Alejandro Beckrich plans to show Clarissa around both the dental hygiene clinic and the comfortable and safe housing provided for the students.
It is planned that Clarissa will not only be meeting with all the students, but will also have a chance to visit with many of the indigenous clients who are so grateful to be receiving dental care. Clarissa will be invited to share dinner with the students and staff, and naturally she will be welcome back anytime.
Expect to receive a "Postcard" from Bolivia.
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