I had the pleasure, in July, to spend 2 weeks in Cambodia, volunteering again with the non-profit group Global Dental Relief. This trip was especially meaningful to me, as I was accompanied by my daughter who helped sometimes as my assistant, sometimes teaching oral care to the children. I was joined by a caring and talented group of 5 fellow dentists, 1 dental hygienist and some non-dental volunteers, including 3 (very enthusiastic) pre-dental college students. We treated 810 children, often doing 3 or 4 procedures on each one, happy that we were able to save many of their teeth. Working in a village school house, converted to a mobile dental clinic, we somehow got used to the 95 plus degree heat, and 100% humidity (thanks to fans and cold wet towels). We were welcomed by the community and met many many wonderful and warm local people from the village as well as volunteers from two local non-profits (HUSK and the Shinta Mani Foundation) with which we partnered.
Our home base was the town of Siem Reap, less than an hour away from Ankor Watt and the nearby complex of smaller ancient temples that are beautiful and amazing in scale, architecture and spirituality. On our off-duty days we were able to visit the temples, floating villages on the Meking River and monasteries as well as take in the beautiful countryside with rice paddies, farms, local open air markets, and exotic trees and flowers. Tasting the local foods is one of the joys of travel for me, and the array of tropical fruit available was not only colorful and lovely to look at but delicious and unique in flavor.
As always I took photographs I would love to share with you. Please "Like" Spring Creek Family Dentistry on Facebook for a preview of some of the photos , and check our website for a slide show as well.
Volunteer Dental Mission to India: Capturing the Spirit of Ladakh, India
From the moment I stepped off the plane onto the dusty runway, in Ladakh, India, the metaphor"it took my breath away" became a reality. Maybe it was because of the lack of oxygen at 12,000 feet, or because I had barely slept during 36 hours of traveling. Truly I think it was the sheer rugged beauty and amazement at landing the midst of the Himalayas, in the most northern tip of India. Here we were, standing in a valley at 12,000 feet, surrounded by peaks towering even higher. Beautiful and alluring in its desolation, the dry brown rock faces are dotted with ancient Tibetan monasteries and occasional groves of trees where the Indus River and it's tributaries flow.
We proceeded to the guest house where we stayed for 2 weeks, enjoying the warm hospitality of the lovely Ladakhan people. We set up our dental clinic in a community center, complete with gas generator for electricity and a pressure cooker for sterilization. I was in the company of a talented group of 6 dentists, 1 dental hygienist , and a handful of non-dental volunteers. Together we treated 840 children and their teachers, doing at least 4 or 5 procedures on most of them. We were rewarded with smiles and gratitude, hugs and children's artwork. The experience was rejuvenating, as well as humbling. I look forward to returning next year for another "dose" of Ladakh.
Our Volunteer Dental Mission with the Tibetan Village Project and Free to Smile Foundation
A Wonderful Opportunity
I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Tibet for 10 days n October, providing dental care and oral health education to adults and children in two villages. We were a small team of five: accompanying me were Dr. Erik Richmond (an oral surgeon), one dental hygienist, one dental assistant, and a technical assistant.
We Began Our Journey
Entering Tibet from southeastern China, we began our journey in the city of Chengdu. After a ten hour winding and bumpy van ride, we arrived at a monastery where we unpacked our mobile dental unit and duffel bags full of supplies, setting up a makeshift clinic in what appeared to be a library. Our "dental chairs" were wooden beds painted the brightest reds, oranges, yellows, blues. Electricity was sporadic. Improvisation and flexibility (both mental and physical} were key to our success.
Our next stop was a village a few hours away where we stayed with a family and set up our clinic under a colorful canopy in their courtyard. People came from several neighboring villages, sometimes waiting hours to be seen.
Having an Impact
In total we saw about 175 patients and many of them had several procedures done, including teeth cleaning, extractions, and fillings. The food was fantastic, the hospitality wonderful, scenery beautiful.
I returned with a new appreciation for the Tibetan culture - a warm, giving, non-violent people, who hang prayer flags throughout the countryside, not so much for themselves, but so their wishes will be borne by the wind to everyone in its path.
Spring Creek Family Dentistry Gives Back
Global Dental Expeditions
From the mountains of Guatemala to local shelters, Dr. Weliky believes in sharing her expertise and abilities with those less fortunate. Giving back to the community is an important part of Dr. Weliky's commitment to providing dental care to those in need.
As a volunteer with Global Dental Expeditions, Dr. Weliky has visited Guatemala on a humanitarian mission to provide dental care to children in remote villages. In her own community Dr. Weliky also shares her concern for providing dental care to those in need, as a volunteer provider for the residents of the Milwaukie Annie Ross Shelter.
Oregon Mission of Mercy
The Oregon Dental Association hosted the Mission of Mercy event on November 21-22, 2011. Mission of Mercy is a dental clinic with portable dental stations set up in a large public arena. Dental screenings and services are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, at no charge to those who attend. MOM combines the donated services of hundreds of dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental lab technicians and an array of volunteers to provide these free dental services.
This year Dr. Weliky and her entire team served at the event. Pictured are Dr. Weliky and assistant Noel.
Wichita Center for Family and Community
We volunteered on August 22nd at The Wichita Center for Family and Community. The North Clackamas Family Support Center serves families and students in the North Clackamas School District. They help families with information and resources in addition to their on-site services which include: Food pantry, clothes closet (grades K-12), school supplies, and personal care products.