Feb 6 2009

Helping Luis smile again

Julie Watson is a member of the CFCA Communications Department. She went on a 2008 mission awareness trip to Bolivia, where she met Luis, her sponsored friend.

He was shy and quiet, and I was the peculiar American whose presence frightened the 4-year-old boy.

While waiting for the bus to depart to the first subproject visit, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A translator from the project was standing there with a surprise for me: Luis, my sponsored friend. I didnít even recognize him. I hadnít been told that I would be meeting him. My own confusion soon turned into exhilaration, and Luisí eyes told me of his confusion, too. He was experiencing something new as well.

LuisAs the bus pulled away from the hotel we took our seats. Luis returned to the security of sitting next to Olivia, his guardian from the orphanage. Slowly, Luis began to smile and make eye contact with me. He was looking around the bus, which was filled with a dozen or more strange, white faces that all looked back at him. His face broke into large smile, and his dark eyes twinkled like stars in the evening sky. As the trip went on, ìShorty,î a nickname given to Luis because of his small stature, began to sit closer to me and play peek-a-boo-type games.

Luis enjoyed the bus ride and sat back in the seat, drinking his soda. I wondered if that was what had contributed to his decaying teeth. Olivia told me that the children in the orphanage donít get sugary snacks or drinks. They did not know what care he had before coming to the orphanage. When I asked if his teeth bothered him, she told me that he often holds his hands cupped around this jaw because of the pain.

Even with the toothaches and a bit of travel sickness, he never ceased to be a bright ray of sunshine for many on this trip, especially myself. I wanted to sweep him up and carry him home, where I could give him everything I thought a 4-year-old needed to be happy and healthy. I settled for helping him in whatever way I could. His immediate need was obvious: helping with his dental care.

LuisWhen I returned to Kansas City, I asked Sponsor Services to ask the project to find out what was wrong with Luisí teeth, and what it would cost to get them fixed. I learned that Luis would need very extensive dental work, yet the total cost would be only $80 U.S. Can you imagine?

Sponsor Services helped me set up a special funds account to pay for his dental work, which the project said would begin sometime in February. I pray that he is feeling better.

I plan to return to Bolivia on the 2009 mission awareness trip and canít wait to see Luis and his new smile. God bless CFCA and all the staff members who are helping my special little friend smile again.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Feb 5 2009

A CFCA community organizes a dental clinic

Hello fellow walkers,

The lack of access to basic services is one of the biggest problems of the poor around the world. Many people think that in order to give dignified living conditions to those in need, lots of money is necessary, but what we really need is a heart to walk with them. Just by knowing that someone cares, a healthier environment is created within the poor. What an amazing experience to see the outcome by letting them know that there is ìsomeoneî who thinks and cares about them.

Within the city of Santa Ana, El Salvador, we find a small community of families who survived by collecting garbage from the city dump to sell. CFCA is now sponsoring 84 children in the area, and the changes are fabulous.

With the support and work of the CFCA families who connected electricity from one of their homes, brought chairs, installed lights and offered their help as volunteers, CFCA organized a dental campaign in the community.

One by one, the sponsored children came to see the dentist. It was extraordinary to see the wide, open eyes of the children seeing the dentists work for the first time. As you may imagine, some of the children were crying, some were nervously laughing and others debated the risk to even open their mouth!

Erick gets his teeth cleaned Sponsored child Erick, 8, was very nervous and did not want to enter our improvised clinic. ìNo, no, I am not letting any doctor use a drill on my teeth.î

We invited Erick to see the reactions of other children before him. After much convincing, he accepted and discovered that the check-up was not painful at all.

ìThe machine with the brush was tickling my mouth. It was fun,î said Erick.

The families in the area make an average of $50 to $60 a month. Without sponsorship, dental service is impossible. CFCA organized this campaign with the hope of discovering current dental conditions in the children, to find the possible cause and work on prevention.

Drs. Dennis Funes and Ana Lizeth Mendez were both born and raised in Santa Ana, and they know the needs and difficulties of the families. They were very happy to see that the children were well-behaved. Working 10 hours a day during the weekends, they offered excellent service with patience and professionalism.

Dr. Funes records dental resultsìI am amazed by the conditions of these childrenís teeth. First I thought we were going to have very difficult cases but I am happy to say that most of them are in acceptable condition, and the follow-up treatments will be minor,î Dr. Funes wrote in his final assessment.

Dr. Funes mentioned that the nutritional food provided by CFCA has made a big impact in the current result.

ìThe benefits and services offered to this community in the past have greatly impacted their current dental health, and their health in general. We need to work on prevention, the need for vitamins, and fluoride is a must.î

CFCA will work on fixing superficial cavities, providing proper fluoride treatment and focusing on teaching proper dental care.

Our love and gratitude for all the sponsors who are offering help to the children around the world. You are truly helping to build a better and healthier future for your friends. Letís keep walking together; we are really on the right path.

Henry Flores
Director of Communication Center
El Salvador

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Feb 3 2009

Notes from the Field #6 – Ecuador

Sarah Marquart, CFCA project specialist, talks about Maria, a sponsored aging woman in Ecuador. She received dentures from the dental program funded by CFCA. Now that her smile has been restored, she is truly a happier woman.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Feb 2 2009

Dentures restore Graceís smile

By Peter Ndungo, Nairobi project coordinator

Grace is all smilesGrace, 67, is all smiles. She is happy because she has acquired a new set of dentures. She acquired them in August 2008, thanks to CFCA.

Grace has never put so much value to her teeth as she is doing right now. She does not have a history of dental ailments. Her problem has been brought about by age, she says. She started losing her teeth in her 50s. She never thought that teeth would stand in her way of good health until May 2008, when she lost her remaining teeth.

With her new set of teeth, she is now able to chew foods such as githeri (boiled maize and beans), arrowroot, meat, ugali (porridge made with maize flour), chapati and mandazi (baked wheat flour products). She can also chew sugarcane and fruits such as mangoes and oranges.

Her doctor suggested a gradual introduction to such food, and she can now comfortably eat every meal she pleases. Her speech has also improved tremendously, and she canít stop herself from smiling.

Read about dental care in Nairobi.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Feb 2 2009

A better quality of life

This week marks the beginning of National Childrenís Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association. While this month serves to raise awareness in the U.S. about good oral health in children, it also presents an opportunity to learn about dental health benefits in developing countries.

This week on the blog, youíll read about sponsored members in Kenya, Ecuador, El Salvador and Bolivia who are enjoying a better quality of life thanks to the dental care provided through sponsorship.

Enjoy!

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email