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The Happy Tooth
HELPING WHERE WE CAN
Ken Hunter’s Work in Nepal
“We went to many places throughout Nepal, including an orphanage, and offered cleanings and teeth extractions.”
Earlier this spring, one of our dental hygienists, Ken Hunter, went on an incredible volunteer trip to Nepal, a small country in South Asia. He was part of a team of dental professionals offering free dental treatment to communities throughout Nepal. When he told us about the trip after returning, I knew this was a story we had to share.
I’ll let Ken tell you about the experience in his own words.
–Dr. Justene Doan
Two years ago, some people I worked with in the past started getting a team together for a dental mission to Nepal. When they asked if I wanted to go, I joined the team in a heartbeat. During the first trip, we went to several different places in Nepal and provided free dental treatment to many people who’d never visited a dentist before. Recently, the team got the funds together to take another trip, and I was honored to be a part of it. To say going to Nepal induced culture shock would be an understatement. The quality of life in Nepal is not nearly as organized or as comfortable as here in the United States. It’s amazing to see the creative solutions people come up with to meet their needs and survive. Despite their hardships, the people we met were always really grateful and friendly. We went to many places throughout Nepal, including an orphanage, and offered cleanings and teeth extractions. Our team got to work with some women in Nepal whose mission was to start a nonprofit making and providing feminine hygiene products. They connected us with many local women who’d never had the chance to visit a dentist in their life. I was glad I could help people enjoy clean teeth for the first time since they were children and helping patients get out of pain by removing a decayed tooth.
We didn’t have any running water or electricity, so we had to get creative. Drinking water was to be used sparingly, and we wore headlamps to see into a patient’s mouth. When someone came in to get a tooth pulled, they had to lay down on one of the school benches and put their heads in the dentist or hygienist’s lap. It was how I imagined being a doctor in the American Civil War was like. While we were on that side of the globe, I had the opportunity to visit The Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, where Mother Teresa is buried. It was an intensely moving experience. You could feel her energy still inspiring the order of nuns she worked with. Considering the work we were doing on the trip, I was glad I could pay my respects to such an amazing person. Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of people who helped me when I needed it most. I believe it’s my turn to return the favor and help others however I can. -Ken Hunter
There was one day and night when we worked in a hospital, but most of the time we were in very poor villages, offering treatment at the schools.
June 2019 Edition
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