HAITI MISSION 2015 WAS A SUCCESS!
From January 20th to January 28th, your neighbourhood dental team joined a team of doctors, pharmacists, physician and dental assistants, nurses and volunteers to Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a two week medical dental mission trip with New Beginning Baptist Fellowship Church.
The main objective for the team was to run free dental and medical clinics through an established mission in Haiti called “Oeuvre Evangelique Baptist Bethesda” started by Reverend Martinez Jovin and his wife Emma for the surrounding villages of Port-au-Prince and Jacmel. Our dental team included two dentists – Dr. Carrie Hui and Dr. Michelle Lee, a hygienist – Benson Darsono, a dental assistant – Janet Coloma and support volunteers – Kenneth Hoang, Suzanna Morris, Jean Marie Alien and Edwin Hilverda.
During our stay, clinics were set up in the villages of Montange LaVoute and Marbial – close to Jacmel, Ganthier – a commune in Croix-des-Bouquets Arrondissement, Cabaret – a commune in Arcahaie Arrondissement and in a girls’ orphanage in Port-au-Prince. Our journey involved hours of travel on the back of a pickup truck and flatbed truck through dusty unpaved roads and mountains with steep rocky paths, along river beds and across rivers. The medical team managed to see over a thousand patients of all ages, some of whom have walked as long as 5 to 6 hours to see a ‘western’ doctor. Medications ranging from multivitamins to antibiotics, pain killers, birth control to medicines for hypertension and diabetes were prescribed and dispensed to hundreds of patients by our pharmacy.
The dental team saw over 100 patients on the first day of clinics alone. Needless to say, we were behind from the get-go and were not only overwhelmed but surprised by the demand! Many of the patients treated had never seen a dentist before and most likely have lived weeks to years in pain. For our hygienist Benson, this was his first mission trip and he and Suzanna Morris were kept VERY busy seeing hundreds of children, providing cleanings, topical fluoride applications and dispensing oral fluoride tablets to parents. Oral hygiene was provided to patients young and old, as were toothbrushes.
The dentists saw over 200 patients and extracted hundreds of teeth. Haitians have LONG roots and very DENSE bone! Our extraction skills and grasp of Creole progressed immensely and while we were extremely busy and very tired by the 7th day of clinic, it was very difficult to stop knowing that many of these patients would not have the opportunity to see another dentist until our next visit in 2016.
It goes without saying that the success of our trip would not have been possible without the help of all our support volunteers, among them Kenneth Hoang and Edwin Hilverda who cleaned sterilized all the instruments throughout the 7 days of clinic with the help and expertise of our dental assistant, Janet Coloma. Last but not least, a huge addition to both the medical and dental team was Jean Marie Alien, a Haitian native himself, who traveled with us from Toronto and helped with translation among other tasks.
Prior to our travels, many events including bake sales were held to fundraise for this trip. Proceeds were used to acquire Dental Travel Packs from Health Partners International of Canada and provided us with sundries, anaesthetic and medicines necessary to provide the highest level of dental care to our patients in Haiti. This year, we were also able to purchase surgical instruments and a cordless polishing unit that will be used solely for our annual mission trips to Haiti. Notable generous contributions from Colgate and Dentsply provided us with toothbrushes, toothpaste, polishing paste and fluoride that allowed us to provide preventive care. We also received the generous support of many friends, family and patients like yourself and without this support, our trip would not have been such a success. Our team and our patients in Haiti are extremely grateful for the generosity shown by all of you on many levels. On behalf of the children and adults in Haiti, we want to give you our utmost gratitude for helping to make dental and medical care happen, even in Haiti!