The Smiles Forever Dental Hygiene School in Cochabamba, Bolivia provides vocational training for homeless, indigenous women, thereby affording them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change their lives. This fully accredited 2-year program requires a huge commitment Some of our students are from shelters, and all are from broken homes. Education opens the door to a bountiful future filled with hope to support themselves and their families. They love giving back to their community at clinics.
Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. 85% of the population is indigenous. There is little medical or dental care available. Poor dental care compounds the risks caused by inadequate sanitation and poverty that contribute to the over 40% infant death rate in Bolivia. Periodontal disease can result in preterm babies and heart disease in adults. The culture relegates females to second class status. Without education and vocational training, most women end up working on the street.
There is no denying that the woman is the primary socializing force of the family. Smiles Forever gives ten young, indigent women an opportunity each year to learn a profession, Dental Hygiene, which will allow them to provide for their families and enhance their lives. 6,500 Chidren receive free dental care each year during the course of the training. When a woman graduates, she is accredited and helped to be placed in a Dental Hygiene job. She is able to provide economically for her family.
These newly trained professionals are role models for other homeless, indigenous women and the community at large. Many of them seek higher education. When the mother is educated, she understands prevention in medical and dental arenas. She values education and makes sure all of her children, including daughters, also receive education. An educated woman is more likely to vote and become a significant voice in her community and government. When women are in government, corruption reduces by 50%.
This project has provided additional documentation in a Microsoft Excel file (projdoc.xls).