Lessons Learned By GivingNovember 11, 2015
I learned some important lessons in dental school that had little to do with dentistry. Back in 2007, while still a dental student, I took a weeklong mission trip with Liga International, also known as the Flying Doctors of Mercy. During my trip, my fellow dental students and I provided dental care to the poorest parts of the country, where people do not have access to a dentist. The trip was a real eye opener for me on many levels, and I promised myself I would return to continue helping.
I was fortunate enough to participate in my third mission trip to Mexico with Liga International last fall, and I was joined by three Park Dental team members. Dental assistant Briana and hygienists Shana and Jen from our Hugo and St. Croix Valley practices also participated in the three-day mission. Our group visited San Blas, a small, impoverished village located on the Pacific Coast, where we treated nearly 100 people over the course of our visit.
Dental services are in such demand that people began lining up to see us at 4 a.m. We performed extractions, filled cavities, did scaling and root planning, and lots of cleanings. It was very rewarding for the team, and people were extremely grateful for our efforts.
Liga International has coordinated the delivery of health care services to the less fortunate in Mexico since 1934. With its volunteers and donated equipment, Liga groups treat tens of thousands of needy people and provide millions of dollars in services every year.
I feel so fortunate that I can give back to those in need. My experience with these mission trips has also given me a renewed appreciation for even the most basic health care resources we have available in the United States. Great reminders and lessons, indeed.