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.
Jul 13, 2016

Sharing the Thrill of Victory with our Donors!

Sandy accepting world dental hygiene award
Sandy accepting world dental hygiene award

Smiles Forever, doing our charity work in Bolivia, has already experienced the thrill of victory this summer.  Winning the international Sunstar award for best dental hygiene project is the equivalent of achieving an Olympic Gold Medal!

Our Home Support Team:  Thanking You!

Building our support team over the past 16 years has been the secret to success.  Many of you have been with Smiles Forever from the beginning days in 2000.  We had just linked with the Madre de Dios womens shelter to bring them dental care.  It was then that we noticed how attentive some of the young women were to dental care methods.  We opened the door to give them a full education in the dental hygiene profession.

As the years went by our mission expanded to serving other shelters, now 27 off-site clients.  You were helping us add to the support team by spreading the word of the Smiles Forever work with indigenous people in Cochabamba and the surrounding area.  You have encouraged us by participating in our events, sustained us with your generous gifts, and uplifted our students when we shared their stories of victory over neglect and poverty.

Our Home Team Backed Theodora & 7-Year Old Lydia who has a "Sweet Tooth" to get "Tooth Holes" Fixed

Theodora outside cliniic
Theodora outside cliniic

Story with a Happy Ending:  Sweet 7-year-old Girl gets her "Tooth Holes" Fixed:

      Lydia is a sweet little girl with a "sweet tooth."  Lydia especially loves chocolate and would find a way to get candy at school. 

Background:  Theadora (age 59) and her daughter Lydia (age 7) live in a rural village called Montesillo outside Cochabamba, Bolivia.  They receive social services and after school daycare through a project called Warmi.

Here is their story with a happy ending, told by Theadora, Lydia's mother:

"This is the first time I have taken my daughter to a dentist because I am a single mother and only make my living by selling Chicha (homemade liquor) to local bars.  My daughter would cry about her teeth hurting, but I could only buy some medication at the store for her.

I am very excited for my daughter to see the dentist to fill all the holes in her teeth.  Before my daughter would buy chocolate and candy at school.  The bugs (bacteria) in her mouth were living off of the candy.  Now she cannot buy candy and I make her brush her teeth.

I want to get my teeth worked on, too!

Update from Smiles Forever's Bolivian Dental Hygienist School's Outreach Program:

          Currently, our Smiles Forever supported Bolivian Dental Hygienist school continues to strengthen and build upon our community clinic and rural outreach work.  There are now 27 organizations, like the Warmi project which helped Lydia, that  we visit both in Cochabamba and in surrounding rural areas.  All these dental services can be provided free, thanks to the support from our GlobalGiving friends like you.

Since our beginnings in 2000, we have been looking for ways to help the under-served in an ever-widening area around our dental hygienist school for young indigenous woman.  Many of our students, past and present, have come from the very shelters which we now go back and serve.  To date Smiles Forever estimates we have given 30,000 free treatments in the local area.  Our goal is to reach out to 10,000 more soon, particularly the vulnerable children, some who are crying from tooth decay pain like one of our newest patients, Lydia.  She's promising us and her mother to avoid candy and to brush her teeth, because Lydia doesn't want to live with constant pain again.

Theodora with daughter Lydia receiving treatments
Theodora with daughter Lydia receiving treatments

Adele Helps a Teen-aged Girl at the Burn Clinic

Adela at Burn Center

As you can tell from the picture of Adele and her patient, there is a caring bond between them.  This teenaged girl was severely burned--this happens way too often in a country where much of the population cooks on open fires.  Someday there may be a next chapter in this girl's life.  If things work out, and if there is financial backing for her, this burn survivor could come to our hygienist school.  What a difference that educational opportunity would make--particularly because it may be hard for her to find a husband because of her scars. 

Stories from Our Patients

We are now beginning the process of collecting stories from some of those thousands we see.  Children like to share how excited they are to see us.  Sometimes these children marvel at even handling a toothbrush.  These are children who are not watching TV with commercials about every possible thing available in the modern world.

They take our little plastic mirrors and their toy animals and try to brush the teeth of the stuffed animals--emulating our treatment.  These children are practicing what we preach!  "What about me!" Everyone says because they all want to take part.  Afterwards, they take their little mirrors and smile and look handsome or glamourous and exclaim, "Don't I look pretty (bonita)!"

Thank you for believing in the vision of Smiles Forever.  We truly can all make a difference.  Invite your friends or corporate sponsors to join our Bolivian gold medal team.

Newest clinic visitor checking her teeth
Newest clinic visitor checking her teeth
Sandy in blue at makeshift classroom exam table
Sandy in blue at makeshift classroom exam table
Poncho-clad mother brings in daughter to fix holes
Poncho-clad mother brings in daughter to fix holes
Jun 7, 2016

Sandy to Accept Prize in Switzerland

Sandy Kemper heads to Switzerland to accept award
Sandy Kemper heads to Switzerland to accept award

Smiles Forever Sizzles This Summer: Sandy heads to Switzerland to Accept International Dental Hygienist Prize

Sandy, our Founder of the Dental Hygienist School in Bolivia 16 years ago, has won a prestigious international award and will be heading to Switzerland on June 9th to accept it.  There will be a world-wide gathering of dental hygienists, many who like Sandy have been improving dental care to the 3rd world.  Both in Seattle and Bolivia the excitement is building--what a dream come true to have our sweat and toil of so many years recognized.  We are being rewarded for being pioneers.  Our school educating homeless indigenous women, including mothers, has grown to where we can branch out and serve many specialized shelters.  The model for educating hundreds to ultimately treating thousands has been thoroughly tested by Smiles Forever.  Now the world will see how it can work for them and for the lives of thousands more in other countries.

Stepping back in time--here is how it started for some of our recent students:

Shirley:  

Hello my name is Shirley and I’m 17 years old.

I just started the dental hygiene program at Smiles Forever, dental hygiene is a beautiful career, and I’ve learned a lot already and I’m going through the program so I can become a dental hygienist. Also one of my dreams in life was to become a dentist, but my family has a lot of economic problems and also social problems. Sometimes my parents doesn’t get along and fight a lot and that makes me really sad and also my little brothers.  Most of the discussions are because money. I always talk to my little brothers about positive things in life and that we have to have faith in God and I know that everything will change in our family, especially when I can work as a hygienist and help to provide.

I want to thank to all the Smiles Forever donors since they are changing my life and many other girls' lives with this program and to accomplish one of my dreams, and I promise that I will not let you down.

Love and blessings,

Shirley

Nancy:

Hello my dear friends, my name is Nancy.   I’m part of the Smiles Forever foundation dental hygiene program, a career that I never heard of before but after every day of training I love it more and more.

Economically my situation is bad and my family cannot help me to go to the university.

I have a 1 year old girl that I have to support so she doesn’t lack of anything. She is my biggest motivation. I try to work on whatever I can work on the weekends and on regular days so I can buy the things that my little one needs.

I will accomplish with my goals and dreams, and that’s why I’m here at the Smiles Forever dental hygiene program,  My parents help me with what they can, but also I have little brothers that are in school still and my parents can barely send them to school. It’s really sad just to imagine that they might need to start working and not to go to school and help in the house.

My mother is really sick and I a constant preoccupation.  Please keep supporting Smiles Forever so I can accomplish my dreams and goals in life. By working as a dental hygienist I will be able to help my mother with her medicines and to provide for my little girl.

Love,

Nancy

Geovanna:

Hi, my name is Geovanna . I’m 21 years old.

I really like the Smiles Forever clinic and I love the dental hygiene career. By receiving this education I will be able to move on with my life and will be able to help my family.

I couldn’t go to the university because my economy and my family couldn’t support me going to the university.

I live with my older brothers and my mother.  I don’t know my father since he abandoned us when I was a little girl, so I don’t remember how he looks like.

I have a one year old little girl and I work eventually since she is so little and young that I cannot leave her with somebody else.  Also, everybody works so nobody can watch her for than a couple of hours.  I have to work here and there helping in cleaning houses and other stuff since I support my baby myself. The father of my baby never wanted to recognize her as his daughter and never supported her emotionally and economically.

I will love to finish the dental hygiene career and become somebody in life and to try provide for my little baby and help my mom since she worked all her life to send us to school.  She is old and tired now and she deserves to rest.

Love to all,

Geovanna

 Introducing Smiles Forever New Board Member Virginia

Virginia has been behind the scene helping Smiles Forever both plan and execute the funding campaigns for GlobalGiving Bonus days.  Virginia has had a connection with the Shoreline Community College for over 20 years, and thus she became familiar with the trips the college made to Bolivia to help join the Smiles Forever school in operating clinics and for doing field clinics.  Virginia says, "I admire how the students find such meaningful education, and how this dental hygienist training gives back by helping so many in the indigenous community.  I became closely acquainted with Sandy and all the Smiles Forever family, and I am so impressed with the way each year the program builds.  How could I say no when Sandy asked me to serve on the board?"

Join Virginia on June 15th beginning at 6:00 a.m. Seattle time to donate on 50% Global Giving Matching Bonus Day!

Shirley discovers Smiles Forever school
Shirley discovers Smiles Forever school
Nancy hopeful as she begins school
Nancy hopeful as she begins school
Geovanna has advanced and teaches for us now.
Geovanna has advanced and teaches for us now.
Jun 6, 2016

Rooting out Cavities & Rooting for Aracely's Team

Aracely in bright pink scrubs
Aracely in bright pink scrubs

Aracely and her team of fellow dental hygienists have been busy all year helping to root out cavities in Bolivia.  She and the other students have been serving to help screen indigenous children at a community of miners outside Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Aracely has also been doing her internship with a woman dentist.

Soon Aracely will be back at the Smiles Forever school for dental hygienists to complete her exams and become accredited to work full time with a dentist.  She has had a remarkable story.  Aracely was virtually abandoned by her family when her parents died, and she lived in an orphanage.  Smiles Forever discovered this bright and personable student, and it has been our pleasure to see Aracely grow over two years time.  We noticed how she has an affinity for working with the poorest of the poor.  She has loved her special assignments to primitive jungle villages to help gauge early enamel wear.  The people she has become friends with are some of the oldest societies on the planet.

Smiles Forever considers Aracely to be a shining star and also a guiding star for the newer students doing the dental hygiene program.

"Aracely jumps into everything with both feet.  She really is fearless, and I wish you could all see her jump in and out of a canoe to travel the waterways in the villages of the Bolivian jungle.  She is returning to these people who compare her to a lively monkey with the fondest of nicknames."  Sandy Kemper, Founder of Smiles Forever

Aracely responds, "I am so excited to be returning to the villages this summer.  I will be reunited with my friends and I know I will make many more friends when I travel to more little communities.  I like seeing the critters who come right up into their courtyards and houses.  I love making the people, especially the children, feel better and avoid pain by helping check for cavities and telling them about dental care."

Introducing Smiles Forever New Board Member Virginia

Virginia has been behind the scene helping Smiles Forever both plan and execute the funding campaigns for GlobalGiving Bonus days.  Virginia and Aracely have something in common:  they both have had up-close experiences with possums!  Virginia has had a connection with the Shoreline Community College for over 20 years, and thus she became familiar with the trips the college made to Bolivia to help join the Smiles Forever school in operating clinics and for doing field clinics.  Virginia says, "I admire how the students find such meaningful education, and how this dental hygienist training gives back by helping so many in the indigenous community.  I became closely acquainted with Sandy and all the Smiles Forever family, and I am so impressed with the way each year the program builds.  How could I say no when Sandy asked me to serve on the board?"

 Join Virginia on June 15th beginning at 6:00 a.m. Seattle time to donate on 50% Matching Bonus Day!

Bolivian jungle possum
Bolivian jungle possum
Bolivian girl in pink with pigtails
Bolivian girl in pink with pigtails
Aracely polling the river in Bolivian Amazon
Aracely polling the river in Bolivian Amazon
Virginia
Virginia's possum posing for close-up
 
   

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