With a population of 14.7 million, more than half of all the residents in Guatemala live in poverty. But from the smoldering volcano to the bright colors to the souped-up chicken busses, the country is alive and filled with personality, and the inner beauty of the Guatemalan people make it a very special place.
From January 23-28, 14 members of the Smile Generation® family served at the Pacific Dental Services® Foundation’s clinic outside of Antigua, Guatemala. The team had the privilege to serve 119 patients and provide nearly $70,000 in donated dentistry. “This is the first time I have traveled on one of these international trips with the PDS® Foundation, and I was blown away by the joy of the patients I had the privilege to serve,” said owner doctor, Ashley Hopkins, from Austin, TX. “I absolutely fell in love with the people of Guatemala. I also had a great time getting to know other dentists and team members from different regions. We’ll be friends forever!”
Realizing the tremendous need for oral healthcare in Guatemala, the PDS Foundation established a clinic in Xenacoj, Guatemala in January of 2015. Dental diseases continue to be a serious problem for Guatemalans with poverty, poor education and malnutritio n being the major factors. The clinic sits in a rural yet accessible region located just off the Pan American Highway. Through a partnership with Hope Haven International, the PDS Foundation Clinic provides comprehensive care to many individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. In addition, the clinic supports Special Olympics athletes and their families.
To ensure the Clinic’s long term sustainability, the Foundation established a residency program with the University of San Carlos to ensure oral health services are provided year round. The program has already graduated five students and three more students are currently in their ten-month rotation.
In addition to Guatemala, the Pacific Dental Services Foundation provides oral healthcare to underserved populations in Ethiopia and Fiji. Since the Foundation’s first service trip in 2010, over 100 clinicians have volunteered, providing care for over 13,000 patients.
Thank you to all the PDS team members who give their time and talent to serve others.