Today in dental we saw some of our very first patients from Papua New Guinea. Sometimes it still feels so surreal thinking about the fact that we’ve travelled hundreds of miles from Fiji to get to where we are now. However, being able to finally see patients really serves as a positive reminder of why we’ve spent all these hours and energy working and preparing. One of the lieutenants was giving us some background of the population in Papua New Guinea and was explaining to us that the majority of the people in Bouganville have never seen a dentist. With several of the cases we’ve already seen so far, there are many patients with advanced calculus buildup and periodontal disease as a result of chewing betel nut, poor oral hygiene and lack of access to dental care.
For the next couple of days, we have many CHE’s and SMEE’s both on the Mercy and on the field planned. Dental also has CHF’s (Community Health Fairs) planned to educate the population (a significant number of younger children) on how proper brushing, flossing and a healthy diet can improve oral health and prevent cavities and tooth decay.
More updates soon!
Spent some time just looking out across the waters and enjoying the beauty of the islands of Papua New Guinea. It’s so incredible that I’m here. Being able to enjoy the tranquility of the waters and the stillness of everything that’s in front of me is such a nice feeling. Such a humbling feeling to realize just how many people are in this world, how many parts of the world will probably be left unseen, how there are millions of people who all go through problems just like me, and that this is a beautiful earth and I’m lucky for a brand new day every day. To be completely honest, this hasn’t been the smoothest ride—we all have bumps and rough patches that we have to go through and that’s just a part of how things are. Learning to adjust the sails (pun…somewhat intended) has been one of the biggest learning experiences that has come from this humanitarian mission so far for both our team and for me as an individual. It’s hard enough too that I’m so far away from home, I miss my family, I miss my friends, and I miss summer. But being here and being reminded of the true purpose of this humanitarian mission is helping me to get through all the ups and downs and I’m learning to just take things day by day. You know that phrase, “learn to live for something bigger than yourself”? Well I’m going to try and do exactly that.
Written June 28, 2015