I found DDS4KIDs while browsing the website. Later, I happened to meet a former volunteer (Christy), who told me about her great experience with DDS4kids. After my first phone conversation with Lan, I felt connected and was very impressed with things she has accomplished. I decided to join the 2009 mission. It took me a year since the day I sent in my application and organized between work, personal life and the trip. As time came, despite the excitement, my anxiety level gradually increased since I did not know what to expect.
DDS4kids organization is very well-organized during our trip to Vietnam. Everything was planned out and covered. Doing field dentistry is far and beyond our daily practice back home. As a dentist, I pushed myself to get out of my comfort zone to function. The mission is physically and mentally demanding. However, traveling to the remote areas of Mekong Delta to provide dental care to the under served population is very rewarding. The look in the children eyes full of anticipation, curiosity and of course apprehension got my attentions, lifted my heart and spirit. That gave me the strength to rise above the tropical heat and less than ideal working conditions.
The two weeks of mission is only the tip of the iceberg. The local helpers in Saigon and Lan have worked so hard on it all year. You have to be there to see all the work behind the scene and appreciate their effort. We did not only provide dental treatment but also focused on dental education to the children and parents. The message we tried to get to the parents is that being able to extract the tooth in fact is a failure for all and our goal is to prevent it from happening by starting the care at home at early age.
Being on this trip, I got to see the beautiful part of the country, to eat the delicious local food, to see how the local people live and work, to expand my horizon, and yet at the same time, I got to care for the children. But most, I got to make friends with all the wonderful and amazing people on the team. What else can I ask for in life? Winning lottery tickets.maybe…so I can give it all to DDS4kids….
Lan, I cannot tell you how grateful I was for such a meaningful and wonderful time.
Dr. Mai Le, Pedodontist, Seattle, Washington (Dr. Mai Le is joining again on team VN2011)