Goan dentist participates in humanitarian project in Leh, Ladakh
Giving healthcare new meaning, Dr Michelle De Lima Pereira, BDS, joined an international team of dentists and general volunteers to provide free dental care to children in need from Ladakh
Dr Michelle De Lima Pereira, a general dentist having her own private practice In Margao, recently travelled to remote parts of northern India to share her dental skills and big heart to help children living in this rooftop of the world. For one week, Dr Pereira joined an international team of dentists and general volunteers to provide free dental care to children in need from the area of Leh, Ladakh.
She joined a diverse team of 16 volunteers – seven dentists and nine non-dental volunteers – who travelled to India from France and Netherlands, and Colorado, California, Michigan, Arizona and New Jersey in the United States. Over the course of six days, this team worked hard and became fast friends as they provided 6,760 children with much needed dental care and oral health education. School children attending the clinic ranged from ages 7 to 18 years. Each child received an initial examination, followed by cleaning, restorations and extractions as needed. At the end of their treatment, patients were given a fluoride treatment, a new toothbrush, and oral health education to improve awareness and future tooth brushing habits. As volunteers arrived at the clinic each day, students greeted them, each clutching their new dental chart and chattering excitedly about the day ahead. As they passed, children would call out the traditional greeting of “Julley” with shy smiles and a big wave. In northern India, there are very few dentists to serve the local population. As a result, a small area of decay in a child’s mouth continues to grow until the tooth, or many teeth, are compromised. Without care, these children suffer from chronic pain and infection. Dental decay affects a child’s ability to eat properly, sleep at night, pay attention in school and to generally thrive. During the clinic, Dr Pereira treated many children with multiple areas of decay. During the course of one week, she and the others dentists on the team completed 718 tooth restorations. Her days were demanding, as work was done under field conditions with portable dental units and simple field lighting. What Dr Pereira loved most about volunteering with Global Dental Relief is the “very special camaraderie that emerges within every team”. She explains that it’s “like-minded people who volunteer to bring their skills to give care to children, people who have a deep well of compassion and a healthy sense of adventure”. She is also motivated by the immense need of the kids. In all, it was also a wonderful week of special interactions and small gestures between children and volunteers, bridging generations and cultures. GDR volunteers return to treat school populations every two years to ensure continuous care throughout their school years.
ABOUT GLOBAL DENTAL RELIEF
Global Dental Relief(GDR)is a 501(c)3 charitable organizationin the United States, established in 2001to provide free dental care and oral health education to children in Nepal, Northern India, Cambodia,Kenya and Guatemala.GDR’s commitment is to return to these same children every two years to provide continuous care. Since 2001,GDR has hosted 2,358 volunteers, providing treatment and oral health education to 157,000children.
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