Our final clinic day took us to the largest slum area in the country. The 1st of December is a community we have visited before. This is visit number 5 to be exact and this place and it’s people hold a special place in the hearts of many of our veteran team members. Homes made of cardboard and plastic with roofs of tin and dirt floors that house 8 or 9 people in one small room. With no government taxing of the land it attracts the poorest of the poor to this place. It is a community with a high rate of crime and prostitution and a known gang presence.
A perfect example of that ongoing relationship is Dr. Tony Brown and 94 year-old Donia Maria. We have a picture of this amazing woman and Dr. Tony dancing from each year we have visited and this year was no exception. The pure joy on her face when she sees Dr. Tony is mirrored on his face when this tiny fireball of a woman rushes toward him for an embrace. The ongoing relationships with the people here have been amazing and have allowed us to see a marked difference in the health of the people who live here.
In our dental department today, volunteer Dunya Neroda was instructing a patient on proper brushing techniques. This was the patient’s third visit to one of our clinics and, as a result, our team saw no decay and no serious oral health problems. Our goal now is to move towards educating these patients on how to maintain their good oral health. It’s so encouraging to see the sustainable impact our visits have had over the years.
Over in our medical department, the team met Sonia, a 13 year-old girl born several months premature, spending several more months in an incubator before being released from hospital. As a result of her rocky start in life, her hips did not develop properly and she is not able to walk. All Sonia wants is to be able to play with her 5 siblings and experience life as they do but she has outgrown her childhood wheelchair and even getting around in that has become difficult. As word spread through the team of Sonia’s need one of our veteran dentists, Dr. Mark Cross came forward. Before leaving on the trip his parents had handed him some money and asked him to use it to meet whatever need came up. When the funds were converted to US currency the amount was the exact cost of a new wheelchair right down to the dollar. A need met, a life changed and an answer to this families prayers.
Total patient counts for the day were more than 1100 people treated. That brings our weeks total to over 6000 patients in our 5 clinic days. While this is hardly a fraction of the population the impact to each individual is immeasurable. The patients were not the only ones impacted either. Bringing their individual gifts and skills to the people of El Salvador will forever change the hearts of each team member here. It is an experience like no other and makes us want to give more. If you are interested in helping on a team next year, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you some information and an application.
The team is travelling home today (Sunday) and as more stories and pictures come in we will continue to share them with you. If you can help us fund our ongoing Medical and Dental trips please go to our website and give whatever you can. Every dollar counts towards changing a life and providing a future. Thank you.