Giving back and serving those less fortunate has been an interest of mine since before my career as a dentist. Volunteerism is rewarding and self-satisfying. My volunteerism started when I was called upon to work in “free clinics” offered through my dental society, which represents the Inland Empire and the desert communities of southern California. Monthly, if not weekly, I received phone calls from our Executive Director asking if I was free on Saturday to cover a dental clinic that needed extra help. Not only did I provide treatment to children but I also provided dental care to adults. Some of the adults were either incarcerated or in drug rehab. Although skeptical about my skills treating these patients, especially when administering local anesthesia, I was able to successfully complete the needed treatment and even remove third molars!
During the past several years, altruistic activities took me abroad to Vietnam, Honduras and El Salvador. For the past 8 1/2 years, I traveled to Sri Lanka with Dental Care International (DCI) providing oral care to the children of underserved areas and to those residing in tea plantations. DCI volunteers not only provide treatment to children but we also lecture to the local dentists and dental assistants providing them with continuing education. My most recent overseas outreach was lecturing abroad to dental students, dentists, dental therapists/mid-level providers and dental assistants in Africa. This cultural and educational exchange was made possible through Global Dental Ambassadors (GDA). GDA has taken me to Jamaica and Zambia. My involvement with both DCI and GDA has given me worldwide experiences and opportunities meeting dental and medical professionals from around the world, exchanging knowledge through education and cultural experiences.
Earlier this year I traveled to Mullaitivu, the northernmost area of Sri Lanka where we provided treatment to over 800 children. Many of the children were orphans who lost their parents in the civil war that ravaged the area for over 23 years. This summer I traveled to Zambia with GDA and lectured to dental students at the Copperbelt University in Ndola and to Lusaka where we lectured to dentists, dental therapists, dental lab techs, and dental assistants at the Lusaka Dental Training school. We also visited a home for special needs children and completed oral screenings. Children who needed treatment were referred to the local dentists and training school.
If you have any interest to travel abroad and provide volunteer services, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. DCI and GDA welcome volunteers to their global oral health projects