Health
 Bolivia
Project #7925

Help Dental Hygiene Students Make Bolivia Smile!

by Smiles Forever
Vetted
Vania treating a child age 8 with Dr. Ricci
Vania treating a child age 8 with Dr. Ricci
Your Donations Give Dental Care to the Sightless!
Alejandro, our Smiles Forever clinic director in Cochabamba, Bolivia sends good news about our addition of treating the sightless:
We just started with the blind group and ages vary really widely from 9 to 62.   I know we have more focus on children for Global Giving, but here are two important points:
1.- We will help anyone in need no matter the age, but of course we are more focused on children.
2.- Special needs patients and adult patients are perfect for the students' training. 
Here is the story behind how we began to give dental services to the blind:
They contacted us through a person who helped Smiles Forever in the past. After several meetings and the exchange of documents, we signed the agreement in August in the Smiles Forever offices. I signed for Smiles Forever and the president of their organization, Javier Alarcon Condori signed as their president. It is important in Bolivia to conduct business, even our charity, with formal agreements.  Then we coordinated subjects like how we can offer adequate service for them. The first thing discussed is that they don't want to be treated differently from the rest which is awesome. Indeed equality is one of our values as an organization, but we agreed that in order for them to get used to the physical space of the clinic the first time special considerations and accommodations could be made.
How we introduce blind patients to our clinic:
Any patient who comes (with previous scheduling) we will watch for them at the door and conduct them until they sit on the chair in the treatment room.  After the dental service we will walk with them to the bus stop or call a cab or whatever is needed to make sure they get home safely or to their center properly. I introduced Javier to the the staff and he visited our facilities and talked to some patients; he is a sweet man in his mid-40's. I saw a gesture of tenderness from our Dr. Ricci as she walked Javier to the bus stop. She waited and made sure he was on the right bus to go back home.
We began with the initial group of 18 beneficiaries, and will expand to treat their families:
The initial group is composed of 18 beneficiaries, and after their cycle of treatments, we will include their familes. Also, a highlight of the group is that it is composed of people whose economic situation is not the best. But as with anyone in need, it is Smiles Forever's mission to try and give as much as we can.
It is because of You--Our Friends from Global Giving around the world who care so deeply about those economically or physically handicapped that we can continue to give care to so many.
It is because of Your Generosity that we can in turn bring the happiness of being valued and of being free from dental pain.  Muchas Gracias, Alejandro

 About the number of organizations: we have reached 23 so far with signed agreements. Besides that we eventually have referral patients and people who work at the shelters to give dental care to those out-patients, too.

Here is the story of Vania, one of our more advanced students, who is learning so much more by being able to help those who have limited vision or who are blind:

Hello My Friends:

Thanks to all the Smiles Forever supporters, now I’m starting a new stage in my training to become a dental hygienist. Finally, the wait is over and I’m starting to do procedures and protocols on real patients. It is more complicated than using the dental models, especially if they are kids and they move a lot. I know that with my instructors help and guidance I will be able to overcome this difficult, but beautiful task. Also,I want to use these lines to thank anyone who has supported Smiles Forever. It’s not only about one little project --it's more! It’s a bigger picture and so many things involved, like training us, giving us guidance about things like how to make a monthly budget to organize our private lives.  Smiles Forever is helping children and adults in need and way much more, and now they have a new group coming. It’s going to be my first time helping blind people. The new group Asociacion Vidas is composed of blind people and their families and their ages vary from 10 to 60 years old. This will be awesome for my training, but I am still a little nervous because of the fact that working with blind people is different. From helping them to walk into the clinic to making sure they leave or take the correct bus will be a new experience for us all.  I am thinking how I’m going to explain home care techniques that are probably 80% visual to someone who cannot see, but we will make it.  I look forward to seeing each of them again and I understand how proud they are to learn independence as they become accustomed to the layout of our clinic.  Love, Vania

Global Giving hosts time-release 30% Bonus Day Wed. Sept. 21st:  Best time for Seattle time zone donations is 9:01 a.m.  Renew your valued support or even consider joining our Recurring Giver family! 

Pyramids of market produce
Pyramids of market produce
Old Bolivian lady with modern pen
Old Bolivian lady with modern pen
Smiles Forever group & clinic director Alejandro
Smiles Forever group & clinic director Alejandro
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
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
Bolivian Children Learning basic Dental Hygiene
Bolivian Children Learning basic Dental Hygiene

Smiles Forever Joins Global Giving in Sharing Gifts of Love in Our Corner of the World

Valentine's Day Greetings from all of us here in Bolivia.  Today gives testimony to the power of love and how even small gifts and acts of kindness can be potent medicine.  We have chosen today to invite you to join our community as a recurring giver at any level.  Here's news about how valuable your donations will be as we announce plans to run a 3-year dental treatment study with the children of Villa Tunari, a stable indigenous community in the Bolivian jungle.

Launching Recurring Giver Recruitment Campaign as we actively fundraise for Villa Tunari Project

If you have been on the fence about joining the Smiles Forever recurring donor campaign, decide today.  Or in other words, make the leap before February 29th Leap Day if possible.  We are off to a modest start, and if you could be one of the 3 additional recurring donors needed, we'd make the next platform & win Global Giving points.  Doesn't that sound fun and easy?  Our goal for between now and the end of March is 50 new donors.  We would love to have a consistent funded base to make planning a trip to Villa Tunari every 6 months for the next three years less nerve-wracking.  Smiles Forever has already begun the treatment of 400 school children.  We took our staff and a team of volunteers last fall and stayed a full week, working out of a 2-chair clinic in 100 degree heat.  We held seminars for educators and families.  In order to be accepted into our ambitious project, students had to bring back signed parental permission slips.

Learning More with Global Giving's Storytelling Tool

Admittedly, we weren't the first ones in the pack to adapt our feedback model to Global Gving's storytelling tool.  We have been stuck in the planning mode for far too long--now we have a winning idea for collecting pictures & insight & seeing how our "clients" see us.  This understanding will be priceless and even more so because it will be in a form we can share with the world.  We love you, "te amo," Global Giving & Global Giving UK for providing the method and the nudge needed to get out there in the heat & humidy with our smartphones and take pictures as we collect stories.  

Adopting individual children, families or the whole village--your choice

Smiles Forever pledges to keep you all updated with personal profiles.  What makes this indigenous tropical community unique in part is their welcoming attitude and lack of fear of modern inventions.  These children and even their parents enjoy having their pictures taken and do not balk at having them shared--quite the reverse--they are eager and proud.  Our team's departure back to serve Villa Tunari with some of the latest in dental technology is coming soon, either late March or early April.  The logistics of transportation and housing, not to mention purchasing supplies to last a week, are daunting.  That's why your help is so critical.  

Volunteer Opportunity

I should mention since this project will extend for three years to collect statistically valuable information, if you are a dental professional and wish to put together a team, or if you belong to a service group, please consider coming to Bolivia.  You are more than welcome to contact me directly.

Children of all ages will be served
Children of all ages will be served
Shirley 2nd from left pictured with Dr. Quinteros
Shirley 2nd from left pictured with Dr. Quinteros

Shirley was awarded a Smiles Forever scholarship when she was just 17.  It has been our honor and joy to watch her turn into a beautiful and studious woman of 18. Because Shirley is so eloquent, I want to include both her opening impression and her updated story.   Sandy Kemper, Founder of Smiles Forever

Here's Shirley's Story when she first came to us:

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 is to become a dentist, but my family has a lot of economic problems and also social problems. Sometimes my parents don’t get along and fight a lot and that makes me really sad and also makes my little brothers sad. Most of the discussions my parents have are because of 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

 Here's Shirley's Holiday Letter Expressing Thankfulness:

My name is Shirley.  I have 18 years. I am from Cochabamba, Bolivia.

I have 5 younger brothers who I love. They are under my responsibility when my parents go out to work. I'm from a family of limited financial resources; all the money my parents earn is just enough to eat and basic expenses.

My parents are heavily indebted to the bank and make every effort to pay. So I'm now starting to work to pay for my transportation to go to Smiles Forever. For me it is a great help they opened the doors and give me this scholarship. Thanks to Smiles Forever and a dental hygienist career, I will be able to move forward with my family.

To the Smiles Forever supporters, thank you for helping me fulfill my dreams.  Blessings, Shirley

Send a Homeless Bolivian Woman to School for a Year will be featured by Global Giving on Dec. 26th!

This is a wonderful holiday gift to us from Global Giving for being faithful about giving feedback & for being lucky.  We're thankful to be featured on what traditionally is a prime day for giving.  Share the news & don't forget to personally view the front page of Global Giving.   Simply go to www.globalgiving.org.  

Happy Holidays from us here at Smiles Forever to you & your loved ones!

Shirley on the left age 18
Shirley on the left age 18
Shirley 17 in school
Shirley 17 in school's dramatic hallway
 

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Organization Information

Smiles Forever

Location: Renton, WA - USA
Website: https:/​/​www.smilesforever.org
Project Leader:
Sandy Kemper
Renton, WA United States
$69,757 raised of $99,000 goal
 
396 donations
$29,243 to go
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