Monday, May 23, 2011

Road Trip to Makeni

On Wednesday I accompanied some of my team members on a road trip to Makeni. Our destination was a city/town 3 hours drive away from the capital city. We took the only road that goes towards the North, which is quite ironic considering that Makeni is clearly towards the East of Freetown. :)

The Dental Team (20 people) used 4 chair and did mostly extractions. It seems very basic, but if you consider that the nearly 2 million people who live in the greater Makeni area has NO DENTIST whatsoever, four trained professionals' arrival is an amazing improvement. 3 of them were from our ship and they invited 1 dentist from Freetown to join them - he brought his assistant, too. This way they not only help with the excessive workload our dentists face each day, but they also receive further training. As a result after this outreach is over, they will be even more effective in their own district.

While we were filming (the official video will come out soon!) a girl in line kept on catching my eyes. I said hello and we started talking. She spoke quite good English. Maturi heard about the free dental care and traveled from far away. She came to the hospital and stood in line since 4 am! She is a student, but she had severe pain in her wisdom teeth that prevented her from focusing in school. Even though there are dentists in Freetown, their price was way above what Maturi could have afforded. So the pain stayed.

She was so nervous. I asked her is she wanted me to go in with her. She flashed a wonderful smile at me. We walked in together for the first 2 injections. It was fast and relatively painless thanks to Dr Dag's skillful hands. We went outside to sit down and wait for the numbness to kick in. It became difficult for her to speak, so she asked me to tell her more about Mercy Ships. :)

Soon it was her turn. She grabbed my hands and never let them go. (Our videographer was filming during the entire procedure.) Since she was holding on to me for dear life I had to stand right next to her. That means I had to witness the entire process. I can tell you, I had tears in my eyes for her! There is a distinctive sound when a tooth breaks... something I will be able to pick out of a million other sounds if I hear it again.

After both teeth were out she stood up and tried to smile at her "painkiller". It was quite a sight. She was unable to speak so she tried sign-language to ask for my number. I hope she will call me and I can follow up with her. Until that moment I wasn't sure what was the real reason for MY going there. But now I know: she was alone and scared. She needed a friend and I am so glad I could be there for her!

Enjoy the video! :)

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