Smiles Forever teams with organizations throughout Bolivia to provide dental care to children who need it. We're proud of the impact we've had, and the smiles we've saved.
It has always been the focus of Smiles Forever to set up an environment where children get the care they need and deserve. Sandy's first trip to Cochabamba was intense, involving emergency dental care for the kids at Madre de Dios, making do with limited supplies and support. This experience highlighted the need for Smiles Forever, and spurred the creation of the organization as it is today.
The health and quality of life of a large proportion of the world’s children are compromised by dental caries and periodontal disease.
We offer all dental service services to our indigenous Bolivian community.
Children with poor oral health experience pain and tooth loss which compromises normal eating and negatively impacts their nutrition, self-esteem, speech, socialization, quality of life, and school attendance. Worldwide it is estimated that >51 million school hours are lost annually from dental-related illness.
In 1999, and today, many women who grow up in the shelter system cannot complete their education. There were, and still are, few vocational training opportunities. Inspired by that first trip, Sandy Kemper returned to Cochabamba that same year, bringing dental supplies and dental equipment to the Madre de Dios shelter. And in 2002, private donations made it possible to create a two-chair, fully updated dental clinic and dental hygiene training center at the Madre de Dios homeless shelter. Thus, Smiles Forever was born.
Our Beginnings: An Idea Bears Fruit
The first six Smiles Forever hygiene students were residents of the shelter. Together, in partnership with two Bolivian dentists, the program began. It was daunting to create and support a two-year vocational training program for students who came from challenging backgrounds. Most students were still finishing high school, working as housekeepers part time, or still living in the homeless shelter.
Fortunately, Smiles Forever was able to partner with an incredible number of U.S. hygienists and U.S. dental hygiene professors to develop this unique dental hygiene program. Without any precedent, all training and educational materials needed to be translated into Spanish.
Since 2002, Smiles Forever has been accepting students into the dental hygiene program, and has successfully graduated and found job placement for more than 37 young women. All of our graduates and students have found successful employment throughout Cochabamba and the surrounding area.
Smiles Forever is immensely grateful to the efforts of so many to be able to sustain an opportunity to provide young women a chance to learn a trade. This in turn has proven to allow them to provide for their families and enhance their lives.
We hope to be able to take this educational model to other developing countries where opportunities are scarce for young women, and the need for oral hygiene is great.
GlobalGiving gives Smiles Forever a forum to reach out to you, our treasured supporters. Beginning on April 9th- April 13th is the "Little by Little" campaign where donations up to $50 are matched at 50%.
What is especially exciting this spring is how, with your help, we again can visit the Chapare community school for further research on SDF. This fluoride compound can be applied to children's teeth to arrest the spread of dental decay. The numbers are indicating teeth can be saved by arresting caries.
The Challenge Persists in this Poor Country with inadequate nutrician & care. Thank you for all you do in preventing tooth loss and speech & social difficulties.
The consequences of established disease also place a considerable economic burden on children’s families and society. Yet caries can be arrested, and the early stages potentially reversed, by employing measures that are inexpensive and simple to teach. This can be done by promoting oral hygiene through regular removal of food deposits ,and related measures to reduce dental plaque formation and the negative impact of gingivitis.
Students receive preventative instruction, a tooth brush, and offered emergency dental care as well as applications of SDF over 3 years.
Much more to follow !!!