Abre la boca! (open your mouth!) – Not only did the Nicaraguans open their mouths for us when we visited them in March for our dental mission, they also opened their hearts for us. When we visited the two different villages during our trip, we found them all very welcoming. Even though the history of Nicaragua is scarred by dictatorship, civil wars and hurricanes, the people have not given up and are striving to make Nicaragua a better country. They have such positive outlooks on their lives that we could never tell Nicaragua was the second poorest country in Latin America. As much as we helped to improve their oral health during our trip, we benefited more as they made us experience true happiness, which lies in what you enjoy and not what you have! We also made many friends with other dental professionals from all over the country who not only had talent in dentistry but also in music. Impromptu live bands at the beach were definitely one of the highlights of the trip!
Want to see more about our trip – please visit: http://youtu.be/ro1vXLa04VA
This is how other members of the Children’s Oral Care’s team feel about the trip…
People in North America seem to think of going to the dentist as a right or a pain they’d rather not endure. It was a real treat to experience those that see it as a blessing and a special occasion. In a village we visited on the last 2 days of our mission in Nicaragua, it was a real eye opener. We were told by our translators that everyone went home and dressed in their best attire to meet us for treatment. They saw it as a gift and a very special day. They spoiled us with fresh foods for lunch that they prepared in thanks and the children put together a program of song and dance to perform for us. After treatment the kids would just hang around, watched and enjoyed our company. Quite different from what we know. Some wait for hours in the hot sun, just to have a quick cleaning. I only hope that we would all realize what a privilege we do have in North America.
There are so many things to share about our trip to Nicaragua; in general it was just awesome. It was an eye opener when going out into the villages to perform dental work and seeing how the people actually live. They are very poor people, who truly needed our help. Even though our drives to the villages were quite long, especially when it was an hour drive down a gravel road and you wondered where in the world we were going, it allowed me to see and soak in more of the culture and life of Nicaragua. I was surprised when seeing an oxen/horse and cart used to pull people or their belongings on the main road. Even though each day had its challenges, like not having power for our machines, dust and dirt flying all around or the language barrier, the best part of it all was being able to use my given talents to serve the people there. And through it all I learned a bit of Spanish.
Going to Nicaragua was one of the most memorable trips I have ever been on. Someone’s explanation of what a mission trip is does not do justice to what actually happened. There was so much more that I have experienced. The warm greeting we got from each village put a smile on my face for the entire time I was working. When we drove down the dirt roads, we pulled up to villages that have nothing. Each house looked empty and dark but the entire family lives in it. When we came to do the dental work, each patient showed great cooperation although I could only communicate with my limited body language. The patients were very helpful and very grateful for everything we did. Parents thanked us even if their children were upset and fearful for the work, which made it that much more rewarding. Life in Nicaragua is so different than back home. People live without what, we in North America, feel that we can’t live without. It makes me realize how little I really need to live a happy, healthy life and to be grateful for what I have already got. Overall it was an amazing, life transforming experience and I cannot wait to go again.
Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre