Global Dental Relief expands our reach in Antigua, Guatemala!

Global Dental Relief expands our reach in Antigua, Guatemala!

Global Dental Relief is expanding our presence in Antigua, Guatemala in 2016

In addition to continuing our established clinics in San Martín,  we are adding three annual clinics in Ciudad Vieja, a town that neighbors the ancient colonial capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua, Guatemala.

Our new partners Niños de Guatemala and the Municipality of Ciudad Vieja are excited to bring first time dental care to children in this small working-class Ciudad Vieja, near Antigua, Guatemalatown. Along with Antigua, Ciudad Vieja is located in a valley surrounded by coffee plantations and beautiful mountains. Although it’s only fifteen minutes outside of touristy Antigua, Ciudad Vieja is a typical Guatemalan community: colorful chicken buses roar down the street, Mayan women with babies on their backs sell fruits and vegetables in the market, and kids play soccer on the cobblestone streets.

A woman sells flowers on the steps of a church in Antigua, Guatemala

By day our volunteers will treat children from local schools. By night they’ll explore the historical sites and enjoy the international cuisine that Antigua offers.Volunteer in Antigua, Guatemala with Global Dental Relief! This trip is a perfect blend of comfort and exposure to authentic Guatemala. After working in the clinic for six days, the team will spend two days relaxing at an ecolodge on the shore of the world-famous Lake Atitlán. What better way to celebrate a job well done than kayaking, hiking, or laying in a hammock with a drink in your hand?

We still need dentists, dental hygienists, and non-medical volunteers for our November 18-27, 2016 clinic.  If you’ve thought about volunteering overseas, our ten day clinic in Antigua, Guatemala is a great place to start!

Learn more or register today! Contact us at (303) 858-8857 or volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org.

Young GDR supporter collects thousands of toothbrushes for kids

Young GDR supporter collects thousands of toothbrushes for kids

Six-year-old Drew Squire is making a very special difference in the lives of kids like him around the world: he has organized a toothbrush drive that has already inspired hundreds of people to donate thousands of toothbrushes.

These toothbrushes will be distributed, along with thorough oral hygiene education and comprehensive dental care, to the thousands of needful children who attend Global Dental Relief field dental clinics abroad every year.

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Oral Hygiene Education: New Year, New Resolutions

Oral Hygiene Education: New Year, New Resolutions

Many of us turn the corner into a New Year, reflecting back, looking for Global Dental Relief provides dental care and education to children around the worldways to challenge ourselves to greater things in the upcoming year.

We are committed to treating children across the world. Sixteen times last year, 195 wonderful volunteers flew  to the farthest reaches of the earth, carrying dental supplies and willing spirits to provide dental care and oral hygiene education to children that otherwise do not have access to comprehensive, caring dental treatment. Reflecting on such an amazing 2015, what more can we do to have a greater, longer lasting, impact on the thousands of children we treat in 2016?

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change with world.” We want to change the world by providing robust oral hygiene education.

With the intention to reinforce all the dental care that we have provided over the years we have developed a new, comprehensive Oral Hygiene Educational Curriculum that will be used in all of our clinic locations staring with Cambodia next month.

Global Dental Relief provide thorough detan care and hygiene education to children around the world

Treating dental disease only goes as far as the understanding of how it develops. Detailed, reinforced oral hygiene education will contribute to a foundational education of dental diseases. With a strong foothold of understanding these children will be more equipped to make effectual changes in their own lives and health.

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The revamped Oral Hygiene Education kit will include resource materials, visual aids, and videos to teach each and every child we treat how to care for their teeth. Before entering the clinic each child will receive a comprehensive lesson on toothbrushing and nutrition. While the child is in the clinic receiving the restorative treatment they need there will also be two additional educational interactions to build upon that foundation. The importance and significant impact of brushing and nutrition will be reinforced several times throughout each child’s visit.

Jeff Berndt in Nepal

Oral hygiene education is crucial for these children; if they do not understand what causes decay, they will continue to develop decay. With a vision to transform lives, our goal for 2016 is to make the ripple effect of our presence resonate with each child we educate.

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Author Becky Bay, RDH is a trip leader and staff member at Global Dental Relief.

Be Like a Hummingbird – Volunteer with Kids in Kenya

Be Like a Hummingbird – Volunteer with Kids in Kenya

You can make a difference.

Whenever I feel like my contributions to helping in Kenya appear small and insignificant, I am reminded of Wangari Maathai.  She was one of Kenya’s most recognizable women, the first African woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, where over 30 years she mobilized poor women to plant 40 million trees.

Wangari died of cancer in 2011, but her spirit and message are often my reminder to be like a hummingbird.  She tells a story of a small hummingbird fighting a huge forest fire while all the other larger animals looked on and remarked that the hummingbird was so small and had such a small beak, what difference could the little creature make.  The hummingbird replies that he is doing the best that he can as he flies back and forth dropping water on the fire.

The hummingbird’s story teaches us that:

  • The least amongst us can be the greatest. Small interventions can make meaningful impacts;

  • Everyone needs to do the best that he or she can. A change begins with your best contribution;

  • The current numerous challenges that confront societies and the world at large should not overwhelm us into being negligent of our responsibilities

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief to help kids in Kenya!

Please join us in Kenya as a group of dentists, hygenists, and people with big hearts but no dental skills band together to provide care to Kenyan children.

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Kenya!

Be like a hummingbird. Visit our website or reach out to volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org to learn about opportunities to volunteer with children in need in Kenya and around the world.

 

Make a difference: volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Kenya!

Lise Aangeenbrug is a volunteer trip leader with Global Dental Relief in Kenya

Global Dental Relief celebrates being back at work in Nepal!

Global Dental Relief celebrates being back at work in Nepal!

This October, 12 intrepid Global Dental Relief volunteers returned to our clinic in Nepal to provide dental care to 944 children.  These volunteers, from Canada and six states in the US, formed a strong, effective team working for six days in the clinic giving each child an exam, treatment as needed, new toothbrushes, sealants and fluoride treatments.

We owe these volunteers a special thanks since they worked under tough conditions — their job was made more difficult by the current blockade on fuel at the Indian border.  The fuel shortage kept many schools closed and fuel for the generator was in short supply, requiring the clinic to operate on flexible hours to optimize the power schedule.

We are thrilled to be back at work in Nepal where Global Dental Relief has worked since our founding in 2001.  We particularly love the children with their big smiles and earnest efforts to learn tooth brushing as they wait their turn in the clinic.

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Nepal!

The team was led by Peter Vanicek, GDR’s Dental Director, and Sue McEvoy, long time GDR trip leader in Nepal and India.  Sue was present in April during the massive Nepal earthquake and was eager to return to Nepal and work in service for the children she has grown to love over many years.  Sue and her team of volunteers are now trekking – a well deserved adventure after a week-long clinic caring for so many children.

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Nepal!

Special thanks to the Jeff Baumrucker Memorial Sponsorship which supported the work of this clinic in memory of climber Jeff Baumrucker.  It is due to this generous sponsorship that 944 children received dental care and healthy smiles!

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Nepal!

The joys of traveling to Kenya, according to the New York Times

The joys of traveling to Kenya, according to the New York Times

This past Sunday, Kenya’s Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve made it on to the New York Times’ top-6 list of vacation ideas in Africa.

Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times said of the Masai Mara Reserve, “There’s no other place in the world that has such extraordinary wildlife, in such abundance, in such an unpolluted, wide-open landscape.”

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Kenya

Global Dental Relief has been running dental clinics for needful children in Kenya since 2013. Following a week-long clinic, volunteers are treated to an unparalleled experience: a four-day safari in the Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve.

Have you always dreamed of going on safari, but are nervous about traveling in Africa?  Jeff Gettleman has some words of wisdom for you: “Africa is doable, far more doable than you might imagine. There is no other part of the world where what you expect and what you actually find are so different.”  He adds, “Traveling in Africa may sound intimidating and difficult.  But guys, let’s get real. You have no idea how easy it is.”

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Kenya!

It’s even easier when you choose to explore Kenya as a volunteer with Global Dental Relief–we take care of all of the logistics for you, from the moment you land in Nairobi until you head home after an unforgettable 13 days of bringing healthcare to children and getting up close and personal with elephants, zebra, lions and an abundance of diverse wildlife.

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Kenya!

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Kenya!

In addition to all the good you’ll do as a volunteer with Global Dental Relief–bringing dental care and oral hygiene education to the kids that need it most–your visit will have positive knock-on effects in the community. Gettleman hits the nail on the head when he writes, “An added benefit of visiting East Africa is that your tourist dollars will filter through the economy to cooks, drivers, guides, farmers and many others who need that money to support families. Just by coming [to Africa], you’ll help more people as a tourist than probably anywhere else in the world.”

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Kenya!

 

Click here to see the whole list and read Jeffrey Gettleman’s article about the Masai Mara Reserve.

Click here to learn more about Global Dental Relief and sign up for the adventure of a lifetime!

Volunteering in Shangri-La: How Ladakh, India keeps drawing me back

Volunteering in Shangri-La: How Ladakh, India keeps drawing me back

“Practice kindness whenever it is possible. It is always possible.”

-H.H. Dalai Lama

This is the lesson that I learn and relearn whenever I am here in Leh, Ladakh, and just one of the reasons I keep coming back to this magical place.

At the time of this writing, I’m leading my 13th volunteer dental clinic here in Leh, in the Himalayan Indian region of Ladakh. One can’t help but be impressed by the peaceful nature of this ancient town on the Silk Road at more than 12,000 feet, where people simply get along, and even help each other when times are tough. I walk along the main bazaar and see a Sunni mosque and a Shia mosque within a few feet of each other, with a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the middle and a Moravian Christian church just up the road.

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!

I wake up to the Muslim call to prayer mixed with the sound of apples dropping from heavily laden trees as they hit the tin roof next to my window. I look out and see snow-covered peaks on the edge of the Himalayas and watch Kashmiri water boys pushing oil drums full of drinking water down to the town, carefully avoiding the cows that also call the roads home here.

I look forward to seeing friends that no longer treat me as a tourist, but as a colleague, working together with them to improve the quality of life for so many children here… children who are certainly better for the care we deliver, but maybe more importantly, children who learn that they truly matter–why else would people travel so far to provide care for them, year after year?

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!

Every year I am able to peel back another layer of the onion that is a different culture than my own. These discoveries are yet another reason I keep coming back to the same place rather than venturing out to so many other distant lands that certainly beckon.

“Ladakh is the last Shangri-La in the world.”

Pico Ayer, the famous travel writer certainly had it right.

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India! Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!

 

Mark Lisagor, DDS has been a volunteer trip leader with Global Dental Relief since 2008.

Volunteer in Ladakh, India with Global Dental Relief!

Kenya: Top 5 Reasons to Volunteer

Kenya: Top 5 Reasons to Volunteer

Kuja Kenya (Come to Kenya)!

Global Dental Relief trip leader Lise Aangeenbrug spent years living in Kenya, becoming familiar with Kenya people, culture, language and customs.  Here are her top 5 reasons to volunteer in Kenya with Global Dental Relief:

1) The Country

Kenya is a diverse and beautiful country filled with friendly, generous people; it’s also a wildlife paradise. Global Dental Relief works alongside Kenyan dentists and dental assistants, and volunteers interact with hundreds of wonderful children, with the opportunity to experience Maasai culture as part of the safari trip.

Volunteer in Kenya  Volunteer in Kenya

 

2) The Kenyan Children Need You

Global Dental Relief serves Kenyan children without access to basic quality dental care.  42% of its population of 44 million live below the poverty line.  17.7% live on less than $1 per day.  And 20 million – nearly half of Kenya’s population – are children under the age of 18.

These children that arrive at the clinic are eager for dental care and willing to wait hours entertaining themselves by singing songs or exchanging stories and their dreams for the future with clinic volunteers.

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3) Baby Elephants, Rhinos and Giraffes–Oh My!

We visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage where we can get very close to the many small elephants and learn about their care, feeding, and how you can adopt one!   We also visit a giraffe refuge where visitors are allowed to hand feed the giraffes on a platform.  And, for the very bold, maybe even a giraffe kiss.  We also spend part of the day at Nairobi National Park which, in its location near a major city, is unique in the world–it’s also renowned for its protection of rhinos.

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4) The Maasai Mara

I had the amazing experience of living and working in the Mara more than 25 years ago.  Much has changed in Kenya in that time, but the Maasai Mara National Reserve is still one of the top destinations to see lions, elephants, cape buffalo and zebra that call the vast savannah landscape home.  Global Dental Relief volunteers have the option of adding a three day Maasai Mara experience after volunteering in the dental clinic. Volunteers stay in a tented safari camp and experience the park with professional guides.  Truly a once in a lifetime experience!

Volunteer in kenya  Volunteer in Kenya

 

5) It’s Safe!

Unfortunately–as is the case in most countries–parts of Kenya aren’t safe for tourists.  Global Dental Relief takes safety extremely seriously and our ground partners ensure that our volunteers travel safely between the airport, the clinic, the safari, and our other destinations.  The clinic and guest house are located in a walled hospital compound in rural Kikuyu, which is nowhere near any of the past troubles in far northeastern Kenya along the border with Somalia.

Volunteer in Kenya  Volunteer with Global Dental Relief

 

Global Dental Relief has worked with dental professionals and non-dental volunteers from all over the world since 2001.  We reached our 100,000th child with top-notch dental care this year.

Join Global Dental Relief as we give hundreds of Kenyan children the gift of quality dental care in January, 2016.  Visit our website, reach out to volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org or call +1 (303) 858-8857 to learn more!

Global Dental Relief’s 2015 annual party — thank you!

Global Dental Relief’s 2015 annual party — thank you!

Over 160 people turned out last night to show their support for Global Dental Relief and celebrate our recent milestone of reaching 100,000 children with complete dental care and education.

The evening was a wonderful occasion for Global Dental Relief supporters to meet, catch up and enjoy a lovely evening of food, fun, and memories.

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Our silent auction, which featured event tickets, weekend getaways, literature and an array of beautiful artworks from around the world, was a centerpiece of the party and attracted fervent bidding, keeping attendees on the edge of their seats until auction close.

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Up front, a multimedia presentation ran throughout the evening, showcasing our work, with prior Global Dental Relief international volunteers on hand to share their experiences and help others register for trips.

Global Dental Relief Directors Kim & Laurie gave a lovely presentation, reminiscing about the organization’s early days and honoring those pioneers who shaped Global Dental into the successful charity it is today, reaching a previously-unimagined milestone of 100,000 children this summer.

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Former Global Dental Relief tripmates reunited…

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And a lovely time was had by all.  We were extremely moved by the awesome show of support, which brought in over $30,000, a meaningful step on the road to treating our next 100,000 young patients.  Thanks to everyone near and far who stood with Global Dental Relief by making a donation, volunteering in Colorado and abroad, or participating in the silent auction.  You make our work possible!

 

Nepal: Four Months Later

Nepal: Four Months Later

Since late July, GDR volunteer dentists Mark Lisagor, Geoff Hoffman and Maureen Riley, along with Tim Riley and GDR Director Laurie Mathews, have been traveling to local schools in Nepal to give students dental exams.  This is our first visit to Nepal after the devastating April and May earthquakes.  Our team is here to screen patients, but also to assess our future in this extraordinary country and advance the logistics for upcoming fall clinics.

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What we have found so far is a mix of resilience in Kathmandu, areas of great devastation in the countryside, and a people determined to rebound through individual action.  Many of those we meet are  actively funneling aid and supplies to their family village of origin, even if they are longtime residents of Kathmandu or beyond.

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A walk down a street in Kathmandu shows most structures back in use.  Electricity and Wi-Fi are fully returned, though power poles tilt at new and odd angles.  Our local road to the clinic is an obstacle course of mud and potholes, but only because it was under construction before the earthquake and now all the heavy machinery has been redirected to more urgent projects.

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Life in the villages is another story.  While the Everest trail area has largely recovered, other hard hit regions saw a majority of structures demolished.  Villagers are racing to get new homes in place before winter, rebuilding one house at a time and reusing the original construction materials.  Much work is also needed to repair and rebuild the latticework of trails that connect so much of this country, which functions without roads. 

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Everyone here has a tale about where they were during the earthquake and, thankfully, most of these tales are about circumstances endured rather than injury or loss of life.

In short, this is a place of hope, hard work and recovery.  The Department of Education has inspected all schools and hospitals in Nepal and “red tagged” those needing structural work and “green tagged” those open for business.  With three of four buildings at the SMD school now green tagged, GDR clinics will be open for business this fall.  Students are back in school countrywide.

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GDR will be back in Nepal in force this fall – we know our volunteers want to do their part to help this special place recover!  If you can, please join us in bringing healthy smiles to the children of Nepal.

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Slots remain open for one dentist and a few critically needed non-dental volunteers in the fall of 2015, and openings are fully available for spring 2016.  Join us, pitch in and bring hope and care to Nepal!

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By Laurie Mathews