With our preventative program, after the missionaries return to their homes at the completion of their mission, their teeth will last for many years. They will know that we care.
I envision that, over time and with supervision, the local dentists can be trained and employed by the foundation to provide a preventive program that will handle the basic dental and preventive needs of the missionaries.
We can do this as we increase the capacity of local dental professionals to provide dental services by offering them training and mentoring.
The LDSAfricaSmiles Foundation.
- I know of no missionaries that can pay for their own dental care. In the United States, if the parents can’t afford it, an LDS dentist usually volunteers. Most native African missionaries or their parents can not pay for dental care. Also, most African dental facilities do not have sufficient resources or training to provide the necessary preventive treatment for most of our missionaries. LDSAfricanSmiles can make a difference. There is a large number LDS dentists that are looking for opportunities to serve and only need to be pointed in the right direction. Africa is a perfect place to serve and at the same time create a life-long memory they can take home and cherish for years.
- Dental hygienists are critical. Cleanings are generally unheard of in this part of the world, which explains some severe periodontal problems we are seeing with the missionaries. I have found that dental hygienists are the most enthusiastic about traveling to Africa. I have seen many young ladies sacrifice their own time and funds to have this life changing experience. They are born teachers and care givers. Their teaching of the PHDO’s is also critical and will be a major contribution to the local communities. There aren’t many training opportunities for the local providers.
- Most hygienists have time to volunteer, but not the funds to travel. LDSAfricaSmiles foundation can help with that.
- A 501(c)3 foundation was granted in 2013. We plan to be wise with financial gifts and accomplish the mission statement. We have a board that consists of several dentists, an investment banker, a bookkeeper, a professional public relations specialist, internet marketing expert and a web designer. Of course,this is a work in progress and we are still trying to find our way. The members of the board are highly regarded in their respective fields.
- A clinic in the Mukono hospital near Kampala Uganda has been set up through the help of Rotary international, the LDS church and LDSAfricaSmiles to serve as a permanent care center for the Kampala mission area. This dental clinic is part of the “adopt an African clinic” program sponsored Rotary. This clinic will have a dual purpose–it will be used by the local PHDO’s to care for the local population but will be available for missionary care and provide needed training for the local dental providers.
Clinics Throughout Africa
- Develop multiple clinics throughout Africa, hopefully molded after the Mukono clinic. Again, our goal is to care for missionaries and at the same time support a growing preventive care program for the local areas. There will be ongoing training during each missionary clinic for the PHDO’s. By involving the local dental providers, we can help support a very fragile dental profession. (This will improve the local providers’ skills and the value in the country that still relies at times on the “Witch doctor” when it comes to things such as fetal dental mutilation. It is sad to see some of the students when they finish their education go into other fields of work, because of the difficulty in making a living as a dentist.) LDSAfricanSmiles can help.
- Fundraising: ” LDS”. “Lets Do Service”. LDSAfricaSmiles can appeal to many groups, We want everyone to know how they can make a difference in the world. These native African missionaries are amazing young people. The are truly the hope of Africa and our primary focus. LDSAfricanSmiles also has a secondary goal that will also bring smiles in other ways to this beautiful country. I believe that there are a lot of people that would be willing to support these wonderful missionaries. I believe that over time we can manage the care of all the native missionaries. We believe that this can be done with mostly private funds along with lots of volunteers.
- Develop a relationship with government officials that will grant us proper permits and license to practice volunteer dentistry.
D&C 58: 27
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness”;