Earlier this year, we celebrated the construction of a new school in the community of Tuimuj. In the coming months we will be kicking off a pilot program to supplement successful school garden initiatives by introducing nutrition and health programs targeted toward pregnant women and children under five. Today, we provide dental care to remote communities. There is much to smile about in the Guatemala highlands!
Our group of twenty-nine dental professionals, brigade volunteers, and support people wind our way into the Comitancillo region which, for most of us, represents uncharted territory. We are cramped. We are hot.
There are brigade veterans with more than fifteen, and even twenty, missions under their belts; there are first-timers. There are seasoned dental professionals; there are dental students. There are handy people; there are people people. All are eager. And, despite discomfort, all are still smiling!
We are welcomed in Tuimuj, the first of four communities we will visit. We are welcomed with song and dance and speech, all in three languages: Mam, the local indigenous language of the Mayan Mam people, translated to Spanish, translated to English. “Bankyulina”, “Bienvenidos”, “Welcome”! Although none of us can claim knowledge of Mam and very few of us can confidently carry a conversation in Spanish, we are not deterred.
Because we all speak Smile.