A group of PCC’s dental hygiene students and a few faculty members joined forces with Northwest Medical Teams for a trip to Central America last spring. Their mission was to help poor children get the dental care they needed. In total, the group served 257 kids, applying what would have been $85,000 worth of dental care here in the United States. With the help of three Peace Corps translators, the students spent four and a half long days, eight hours a day, working on the kids, many of which have never seen a dentist.
“The reason we went was because people there don’t have access to dental care,” said student Tasha Kendall. “The village we went to didn’t have a dentist and the nearest one is a few hours away by car, and most people there don’t have cars. There was so much need that we couldn’t do all that was needed and some we had to leave with their care half done.”
The group included Kendall, Cam Saki, April Cherney, Anna La, Harry Adams and Janie Strickland. Past student Cara Kao-Young, Interim Director of the Dental Programs Josette Beach and one volunteer dentist, David Hernandez, also went. Besides themselves, the group also had to ship 20 bags of supplies, like suction units and drills, and a portable dental chair to the village with them. They also had to use flashlights and couldn’t use x-rays.
“We didn’t stop until we dropped,” Adams said.
It’s the third year in a row that dental hygiene students have gone abroad with Northwest Medical teams to help poor youth and families. The last two trips were to Cambodia and to Romania, respectively.
“We want to go next year, too,” said La. “We know we’re helping. I want to go back and see the results. It was kind of addictive. We were always wishing we could see one more child. We feel there is much more to do. I was a refugee and this was an opportunity to give back. I always wanted to join Northwest Medical Teams and I always want to do more. It’s pay back for me.”