Guatemala Dental Service Trip

April 24, 2018

Our volunteer team

Earlier this month I, Amy Swenson, had the opportunity to take part in a dental service trip to Guatemala! This team included 2 dentists, 2 hygienists, 3 assistants, 2 translators, and 3 support staff. The team was built from Atlas Dental Group practices and sponsored by the Non-Profit branch, The Whitefield Foundation.

Guatemala

Lake Atitlán

Once we landed in Guatemala City we made our way to Antigua for the first night, then continued to our destination of Godinez. We worked in the surrounding areas of Lake Atitlan.
Guatemala has a long history of suffering multiple natural disasters ranging from hurricanes, earthquakes and active volcanoes. Nature has been the source of strain and heartache for this third world country. Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America and is also the most affected by poverty. There are multiple social issues and the political system has experienced heavy corruption.

Asset Mapping

The primary goal of this trip was to find out how to make future trips more effective and efficient. We want to make a connection in the community, with the local dentists, the schools and to extend the reach beyond the orphanages we are currently working with in Godinez and Xeatzan. Every single member of this team wants to see this community receive the education and preventive care that they deserve. The goal is to treat the chronic need of this area and to not be solely focused on the acute problem. As you can imagine this will take some time and a continuation of these trips to Guatemala. 

Clinic Days

While our goal was to draw together information and to make plans for the future trips, we were still able to provide two 12-hour clinical days. We were based out of orphanage clinics and were able to reach the surrounding communities. We brought everything we could with us to provide the best of care for our patients those days. These “pop-up” clinics were not your traditional dental setting. We were working with limited electricity, lighting, staff, and equipment. Ergonomics were out the window. 😊 It was amazing to see how quickly the news could spread through a village that there was a “dentista” providing free care for those who were in need. Almost every single patient that got in that line for triage asked for a cleaning as well! We saw patients of all ages on both days that we were able to provide treatment.

The groups goal will be to set up an education portion for each patient to go through so that they are not only receiving care but learning how to maintain and prevent as well. I am so excited to see how these trips will continue to grow and multiply education and health throughout these communities!

Creating garden boxes

Cultiva

Our team also had the opportunity to get our hands dirty without gloves on. 😊 Cultiva  is a foundation that is working through communities in Panajachel to educate nutritional values. The staff at Cultiva are the local Guatemalans who have gone through the program themselves. The work in the gardens was the first day of our trip. It quickly brought about a whole new perspective, and really a foundation as to what the intentions of the Whitefield Foundation is hoping to do in Guatemala.

Planting the garden boxes


 

We were involved with the installment of the garden boxes. I don’t know how to describe how awesome and motivational it was to work side by side by with these amazing people, and to have them teaching me about what we were planting! The work of Cultiva is effective and a beautiful effort to be a part of. I highly encourage checking out their website and seeing what they are up to and how you can help.

Future Plans

These trips will continue to evolve and grow and I hope I will get to take part of more in the future. The Whitefield Foundation plans to remain as a source of dental care in Guatemala with expectations to expand to the education of those who live there and will have a real impact on the community. Please feel free to comment any questions and I would love to answer them!!


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