Last Updated Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:30PM MST
A group of volunteers from Calgary will be going down to Haiti next month to help put a smile on the faces of many of the underprivileged people who live on the Caribbean island.
Working with the Haiti Health Initiative, Diane Nguyen says that she and her boyfriend will be going to use their skills to help provide oral care as well as teach Haitians about the importance of oral health.
It’s the second time that Nguyen has gone to help out. The first time was shortly after Hurricane Matthew hit the island in 2016.
The Haiti Health initiative, in addition to providing dental care, also helps with medical care and is working to build a school in the community too. (Supplied)
She says that experience taught her a lot.
“I didn’t realize how much build up, how much gum disease was happening. Basically we had patients of all ages to come and line up and get some dental work.”
Nguyen adds that there is a lot of work that people need to have performed.
“There’s a lot of people that need extractions, fillings, cleanings and stuff like that. But the main thing that was really eye opening for me was to see how dental work was done in the poor conditions that we had to work in.”
According to the World Health Organization, about 50 percent of Haitians lack access to basic health care, including dental care.
To make matters worse, the community is still trying to recover after approximately 35 dental clinics were destroyed in the earthquake in 2010.
Nguyen says that from March 14 to the 24th, she will be joined by a Calgary dentist and a number of other workers to help out, but they’re still looking for more help.
“We are short one. Any dentists that are willing to bring their assistants as well as anyone that want to lend a hand, you don’t have to be in dental to help people out.”
She says the conditions will be tough to work in, but the reward is spectacular.
“Not only to see everyone’s appreciativeness and the smiles on their faces but really; oral health is the entrance to your body. Being able to help with making sure that they are brushing and flossing properly, so that the bacteria that is in their mouth doesn’t affect their overall health. I feel like I am helping people in Haiti with their overall health.”
Nguyen says she’s also started a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of the trip and to raise enough money to buy more equipment that volunteers can use in Haiti.
You can find more information about the Haiti Health Initiative on their website.
(With files from Jordan Kanygin)