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.
Apr 25, 2016

Dental Instructor Joins our Smiles Forever Family

Katie Fleming with Amber and Lisa in jungle clinic
Katie Fleming with Amber and Lisa in jungle clinic

I am truly delighted to welcome Katie Fleming, RDH.BS to our Smiles Forever Board.  Our new board is a powerhouse of talent, dental professional experience, and forward-thinking committed individuals who together can bring Smiles Forever to a new level. The board is comprised of a Microsoft employee with an international studies masters degree, a dentist who has come to Bolivia several times, two college dental professors who have brought dental hygienist students to Bolivia, and young humanitarian-minded hygienists.  We also have a writer with finance expertise, a technical genius, and a key donor who has partnered with us on planning and executing Global Giving bonus days. This is our first in a mini-series of board introductions.  I will let Katie tell her own story.  ---- Sandy Kemper, Smiles Forever Founder and Executive Director

I Strongly Believe in the Mission of Smiles Forever & Willingly Dedicate Time from my Busy Life.
I accepted Sandy's invitation to become a Smiles Forever Bolivia Board of Trustees member because I believe in the mission of Smiles Forever; to change lives through education and help break the cycle of poverty.  I feel Smiles Forever continually works to achieve their mission; I believe in the power of education and know it helps change people’s lives, and I have personally experienced the heart-felt work Smiles Forever consistently delivers to young Bolivian women and Bolivian communities.   My parents and family gave me a blessed life because they worked very hard to provide for us and teach us how to be good people through example.  I try my best every day to give my own children the same wonderful childhood I had by believing in them and loving them with all my heart every day.  I also realize not everyone has the same opportunities I had, or that my children have.  Smiles Forever  supports and educates young Bolivian women who don’t have these opportunities, so they can break their own cycle of poverty and have a career in dental hygiene that can support their own families.  These women become community leaders and are able to teach others how education empowered them and helps build stronger families and communities.  As a Board member, I help raise awareness and money for Smiles Forever I feel passionate about the services Smiles Forever provide to their students and the communities they help serve.  I believe in the work Smiles Forever has been accomplishing for the last 15 years and that is why I am proud to be part of the Smiles Forever Team.

I am the mother of two amazing boys, ages 7 and 8, who inspire me to be my best every day. Together with my husband of 15 years, who is a military veteran and journeyman plumber, I am trying to raise my boys to be good world citizens, and I feel my involvement with Smiles Forever helps accomplish this. Being away from each other for 2+ weeks when I traveled to Bolivia was difficult for all of us, but I wanted to show them the importance of volunteering and supporting those in need.  I juggle a busy schedule but strive to balance work and play.  As a family we enjoy camping, hiking, swimming, playing sports, coaching baseball and spending time together.
I currently am the 2nd year lead dental hygiene professor at a highly respected community college where along with my teaching responsibilities, I am working to establish an annual study abroad trip to Bolivia.  I want others to have the same opportunity I had and my students had last summer when we volunteered with Smiles Forever.  I feel the service-learning based format that is inherent to study abroad trips is pivotal in helping others better understand how they can contribute to the "bigger picture" and make a difference in the world that they can feel good about.

When I traveled to Bolivia, I learned that help and support comes in different forms.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to experience first-hand the pure passion the people associated with Smiles Forever radiate. Upon reflection of my experience, I realize everyone discovered their own strengths at different moments.  For me, I realized how much work goes into planning, organizing, finding funding and executing the community and educational projects Smiles Forever sponsors every year.  I realized anyone can help by signing up to receive email and newsletter updates from Smiles Forever and contributing what they can.  Some might feel like they cannot help because they don’t have money to donate, but attending events, showing support and helping create awareness of the Smiles Forever Foundation and their need for financial support brings awareness to additional supporters. Smiles Forever is the example of community service that I will continue to support because I believe they help empower others and give people the opportunity for a better life. - Katie Fleming, RDH, BS, Smiles Forever Board Member

Please join me at our 1st social event of 2016:

Meet & Greet at Barrel Thief in Fremont District of Seattle on April 28th from 6-8 p.m.

Come meet me, Katie Fleming, and Founder & Executive Director Sandy Kemper, also others who have worked directly with Smiles Forever in Bolivia, including dental hygienists alumni.  This should be a fun evening of sharing stories and socializing for a cause.

Participate in Online Smiles Forever Auction for Barrel Thief Meet & Greet:  Active tonight through April 30th

www.biddingowl.com/smilesforever

 

 

 

 

 

Katie
Katie's students arriving at Bolivian airport
Bolivian woman at roadside market
Bolivian woman at roadside market
Ushpa Ushpa clinic with Katie Fleming
Ushpa Ushpa clinic with Katie Fleming's students
Katie with Seahawk flag gift
Katie with Seahawk flag gift
Smiles Forever
Smiles Forever's Sandy hosting group in her home
Mar 11, 2016

The World Loves Aracely

Aracely smiling in her bright dental uniform
Aracely smiling in her bright dental uniform

The world loves Aracely, our fiercely independent student.  The world can identify with her harsh unforgiving beginnings and can appreciate how Aracely has come back even stronger from each struggle and set-back.

Smiles Forever has been bringing you the story of Aracely, first through two Youthspark mini-projects, and now through her own story of her internship with a clinic serving Bolivian miners families.  You from the around the world have responded warmly.  Aracely may never set foot outside her country, but ambassadors from the U.S. in the dental care field or researchers have come and met her.  Everyone is inspired by how Aracely has listened and learned by example.

Aracely's Story: Aracely spent 10 years of her life being raised in a shelter.  Recently, she decided to share a spartan room with another student, instead of taking a free room at the Smiles Forever house.  She has been able to escape an abusive boyfriend, but she continues to have struggles with a sister in a neighboring city.  Aracely's only sister is trying to pull her away from achieving the dream of an education and career.  The sister is pressuring Aracely to abandon the dental hygiene program to come help her with her children and with a difficult pregnancy.

Helping understand the familial and societal dynamics is one of the most challenging aspects of our program.  There have been heart-breaking times when we have been powerless to stop students from walking away from all their hard academic work.  In those cases, all we can do is leave the door open, awaiting their return. Fortunately, we are making headway with Aracely and offering counseling along with her dental training.  In American schools, we would call this building life skills.

Sometime this year we will be able to hand Aracely her diploma, and say, "We love you, and the world does, too, since they have backed your schooling to achieve your dental hygienist certificate."

JOIN 'WE BELIEVE IN GIRLS' BRITISH GLOBALGIVING CAMPAIGN TODAY THROUGH SATURDAY THE 13TH.

DONATE A MINIMUM 8 POUNDS ( $11+) TO TRAIN ARACELY: GIVE DENTAL CARE TO BOLIVIAN MINERS

http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/train-aracely-give-dental-care-to-bolivian-miners/

Each of your gifts is so important in a crowdfunding contest like the one Global Giving UK is hosting.  Also our British friends have honored Smiles Forever by selecting us to be featured in an article which will be released Friday.  Thank you everyone!

Aracely with wild piglet
Aracely with wild piglet
Mar 11, 2016

Paola & Her 3 Children Commute 25 Miles to School

Paola wearing glasses with Laura --both mothers
Paola wearing glasses with Laura --both mothers

For Paola, like caring mothers around the world, the struggle is often in the daily details.  Paola, her husband, and her 3 children live in the dangerous drug-riddled district of South Cochabama.  This area, lying on the south side of the major metropolitan area, is 25 miles from the Smiles Forever School and clinic.  The neighborhood is a frightful mix of gangs and heavy drug use with the expected staggering number of assaults.  While Bolivia has since colonization suffered from the ravages of alcoholism, now Bolivia also suffers from the fallout of the introduction of modern drugs like Crystal Meth.

Paola is a charming mother and she quickly became a confidant of our younger students.  She is looked up to for what she is striving for-- to better the lives of her children and of her family.  The commute from her home area almost proved too much for her to overcome.  She was repeatedly arriving late, and no wonder--because her primary responsibility was to see her three youngsters safely to school. 

Paola's Plan:  rather than crying and giving up, she is the type of person to find a solution.  She saw a chance to move her children to a public school much closer to the Smiles Forever School and clinic.  This has made all the difference.  She is no longer frequently tardy, so she can rightly deserve the respect of her fellow students and of all the staff.  We have found Paola has the nature to be proactive and find solutions, even with limiting factors.  We all admire her resourceful and resilient nature.

Family Stability Perhaps within Reach:  Paola's family has had ups and mostly downs when her husband found it difficult to secure a stable job.  It now looks like he will be able to provide better with a modest job at a bank.  We know having this more secure framework will allow Paola to concentrate more on her studies.  A month ago, Paola found employment part time with a dentist in the community.  Smiles Forever's mission is to build a better community and a safer, kinder world one life at a time.  Now Paola is helping us make small changes touching many lives.

HELP PAOLA, ARACELY & ALL THE STUDENTS BY SUPPORTING SMILES FOREVER IN THE GLOBALGIVING UK CONTEST 'WE BELIEVE IN GIRLS'  DONATE IN BRITISH POUNDS TODAY & THROUGH SAT.  MARCH 13TH.

TO CONTRIBUTE CLICK HERE:  http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/train-aracely-give-dental-care-to-bolivian-miners/

SUGGESTED MINIMUM IS 8 POUNDS ($11+).  PLEASE GIVE TO TRAIN ARACELY: GIVE DENTAL CARE TO BOLIVIAN MINERS ON THE UK SITE.  THE BRITISH CONTEST IS A WONDERFUL CROWDFUNDING OPPORTUNITY, AND SMILES FOREVER HAS ALSO BEEN CHOSEN TO BE FEATURED IN A FRIDAY NEWSLETTER. THANK YOU OUR FRIENDS IN ENGLAND AND EVERYONE!

Paola, mother of three, beside dental chair
Paola, mother of three, beside dental chair
The bounty of Bolivia
The bounty of Bolivia
 
   

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