The true story of a life-changing experience serving dental patients in need in Ethiopia
On a recent serve trip to Ethiopia, we had the opportunity to help hundreds of kids with no access to dental care. Many of them have lived with painful dental infections for years. The simplest procedures we see at home can be fatal here, so it was truly a blessing to be able to take care of them. In just one week, we were able to provide over 63,000 in donated dentistry to 541 patients in need. These serve trips really impact my perspective on how fortunate we are. The Ethiopians we served in rural Tigray have so little materially, but so much joy.
On top of serving the dental needs of the community, we also had the opportunity to visit an elementary school. The kids proudly welcomed us and showed off their school. This village is one of the lucky ones; our generous patients back home have donated to our partner, charity: water, to provide clean drinking water. This allows the children to attend school without illness and thrive—even in the limited conditions. Local village girls, who’s only duty previously was to walk miles to an unsanitary water source and bring it back home, are now able to enroll in school and receive a formal education. I had the opportunity to speak to the entire school on behalf of The Smile Generation®. My goal was to inspire, but instead—they inspired me!
It is such a joy to help those in need, but what it does for me personally is even more impactful. Service missions like this make my relationships with my family and patients that much more special. When I serve, my entire family is serving with me. I’m lucky to have such an amazing wife that serves alongside of me by being both mom and "dad" while I’m away. It’s really important to us that our kids understand that there is nothing sweeter than the satisfaction of serving others.
If anyone is on the fence about serving, DO IT! From the thankful patients served to the amazing friendships developed with other volunteers, the experience can change your life.
Chairman of the Pediatric National Dental Advisory Board