A tattoo artist, four seasoned dental professionals, two nurses, four fresh dental school grads, two students, a young mother, a CEO, a pair of minors with old souls, a toothfairy, and one retired Navy man step off a plane in Guatemala. They are volunteering their time on Change for Children‘s dental brigade team, venturing into the highlands of Guatemala.
And just as unique as the individuals themselves, are their reasons for volunteering – their ‘why’. For one young mother it is to relieve the pain and suffering of children and the anxiety of mothers, a feeling she knows all too well; for one young professional it is to extend beyond borders, paying it forward with skills newly gained; for another, it is to realign life’s expectations and appreciations by embracing a new culture, a new place, and a new pace. Others will soon come to find their own ‘why’, tucked into the hills, the smiles, and the kind souls of the Guatemala highlands.
Each unique in their ‘why’, but each possessing two feet and a heartbeat and the very qualities that resonate as we recognize the little things (that can be pretty big) that lift communities, community spirit, and community pride.
In the remote communities visited, the blackened and rapidly decaying baby teeth of young children bear the evidence that despite our remote location, sweets are commonplace, low-cost, and consumed in vast quantities. We treat infection. We practice prevention. We educate. We repeat.
Kindness lifts communities.
Communities are lifted when their children are free of pain and infection.
Communities are lifted when their mothers sleep easier, comforted in this knowledge.
Communities are lifted when their teachers are better equipped to provide oral health education.
Communities lift our team.
Confidence is lifted when we connect and communicate across cultures.
Sense of purpose is lifted when we see how our efforts have helped someone else.
Capacity to understand is lifted when we are open, and engaged, and humbled.
It is said that the best way to find oneself is to lose oneself in the service of others. What we also find is beauty, simplicity, and community (and also some finger painting and sing-alongs!).
It is a pleasure to get lost with this team.