If you’ve ever traveled to heavily poverty-stricken parts of the world, you’ve seen first-hand how challenging it can be for people to meet the most basic of necessities, like providing their families with food and a roof over their heads. In these places, dental care may be far down the list of priorities.
Dental professionals know what is at stake when children don’t have access to care. Children experience the majority of their oral development and form good habits during their early and teen years. With dental care and education, they can achieve lifelong dental health; but in many parts of the world, dentists are few and the cost of care is beyond what children and their families can afford.
No time to lose
Without dental care, a small area of oral decay will remain untreated, growing until it becomes infected and inflamed. Chronic pain soon follows, pain that affects a child’s ability to sleep at night, eat properly, focus in school, and lead a healthy, active life. Over time, they lose their teeth, smiles, and self-esteem.
If you’ve ever asked yourself what you can do to help, the answer is, “plenty.” Participating in a dental voluntour project enables you to experience a culture through direct interaction with the local people. With these people you’ll be able to share smiles, help provide dental education, deliver care, and relieve their pain. Many who participate in these efforts — performing work that is both necessary and fulfilling — find that volunteering becomes part of their identities, part of who they are.
Bringing health, far from home
Pico Iyer once wrote, “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed.”
If you are drawn to being part of something that will help open your heart and your eyes, to bringing more to the places you visit than your tourist dollars, and to leaving with the joy of truly connecting with people, you should explore opportunities for voluntourism. It’s truly life-changing!