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Smiles Across the Miles

Mark & I were happy to be included in the latest free dental clinic that one of our partners – “Dick Lewis Smiles” (DLS) - has sponsored in Cambodia over the past several years. This year’s clinic was special, in that it was in loving memory of Cheryl Crisp, wife of Mike Crisp & a good friend of Jennifer Mars, DLS’s founder. (It’s here I’ll note that Jennifer’s work, along with that of Chitra Vincent, is largely responsible for getting things rolling for MTRF in Cambodia).

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Our group arrived at the Romchek Village primary school on Sunday morning, where the dental clinics are held. Through their connections, Jennifer & Chitra have partnered with 6 local dentists (all brothers!) who performed dental check-ups, tooth extractions & related services for all of the children in the village (at this point, numbering ~400). A make-shift “dental office” was put in place; due to the lack of electricity, assistants literally held flashlights during the examinations & extractions, while others sterilized tools along the way. The team instructed the children on aftercare, including use of antibiotics (when needed), brushing skills, etc and passed out free toothbrushes & toothpaste provided by DLS.

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Because most of these families earn less than US$1/day and live in such a remote village, most of them don’t have a means by which to tend to any wounds they may incur. Sadly, not having a way to properly disinfect or bandage their cuts & scrapes, means many become infected, which leads to more severe consequences. For this reason, MTRF and DLS joined forces to supply first aid kits to each of the participants (here’s a shout-out to Chitra’s 7 & 11 year old daughters, who spent hours putting those kits together for us – thank you!!). This was the first step in a series that MTRF will be taking to assist with a host of health and wellness needs within Romchek.

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Despite their rather bleak set of circumstances, everyone in attendance seemed positive and excited to be there. The students were so appreciative that they kicked off the clinic with a special musical performance! It was clear they had rehearsed for quite some time for this big event.

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Since there were so many children participating in the clinic, the DLS group provided small gifts for each child in order to keep them occupied while they awaited their place in line.   Their smiles were contagious and – best of all – with ongoing dental care, thanks to DLS, these children will grow up with bright smiles that’ll last a lifetime!

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