INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Hurricane Sandy devastated large portions of the Northeast a few weeks ago, but for Yosaira, a little girl from the hills above Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, the storm provided a healthier new look on life.
A team of dentists, hygienist, support staff and educators spent the week of October 22 in the mountain town of Jarabacoa ministering to the needs of the poorest of poor in that area. This is the fourth year in a row that The Village Church organized and sponsored such a team to minister in this Dominican town.
The team provided dental education and care to more than 170 children to students from the Palo Blanco School, Anija School and The Ark Children's Home; as well as sharing songs, games, drama, crafts and stories with the children. These facilities are ministries of Kids Alive International. This ministry was founded in the early 1900s and has facilities for children all over the world.
The dental team was composed of dentists Consuelo Charron from Florida, April Westfall from South Lake Tahoe and Israel Armijo from Southern California; dental hygienist Sara Holmes from Zephyr Cove; dental assistant Bonnie Lemert from Washington State; and Renee Taylor and the Rev Dr. Richard "Dick" Randall from Lake Tahoe and Ron Lemert from Washington State, who served as clinical support.
This team provided dental education, cleaned teeth, gave fluoride treatments, applied dental sealants, restored and extracted teeth. Based upon Reno, Nevada dental fees, the team provided over $140,000 worth of dental care at no cost to the children.
This was the fourth time a dental team from The Village Church traveled to Jarabacoa. They were most pleased to see significant improvements in the overall dental health of the children over the past years.
With their portable dental clinic in a classroom in the Palo Blanco School, the team had challenges with electricity and a few equipment breakdowns. Regardless of the conditions, the team was creative in providing the best possible care to the children to the level of dental standards expected in the United States.
Unlike past years, because of Hurricane Sandy, the team did not have to deal with excessive heat and humidity as in past years. The hurricane cooled the region by quite a few degrees and provided refreshing rain. In addition, Hurricane Sandy caused the delay of the flights home for Drs. Westfall and Armijo by a number of days. As a result, they were able to complete considerable dental work on Yosaira including providing her with partial dentures allowing her a bright and healthier smile.
The rest of the team - Stacy and Carly Lippert from Incline Village, and Jessica Klinker from Central California - shared games, drama, crafts and songs with the children, as well as helping them with English as the students helped the team with Spanish.
The Team greatly appreciates the support of the community with this dental mission trip. The financial as well as dental equipment and supply donations made this trip possible. The Team is already planning their fifth mission trip to Jarabacoa in the fall of 2013. This will allow for continuing dental care for the children as well as longer term relationships with the children, school staff and Kids Alive missionaries in the Dominican Republic.