Our newest dentist to the practice, Dr. Brandon Wong, has just recently graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. For the past three years, he has gone on a week long dental mission trip to Ecuador. He has formed relationships with his patients and supports them through the year from back home in the US. We are so excited to have such a compassionate new dentist joining us in Richmond, Va! Here is a little recap of Dr. Wong’s trip to Ecuador:
Mindo Futures Medical Mission is a full medical mission that not only provides free dental care to the people of Mindo, but also provides services from Cardiology, to Rheumatology, to OBGYN, to general surgery. The mission operates under the idea that by using our skills, knowledge, and training we have acquired in the United States, alongside an enormous amount of love, we can strive, year after year, to change the lives of people in Mindo, Ecuador. The medical mission is only a small part of the organization. Mindo Futures- which operates year round in Mindo to revitalize the town, and support and inspire the upcoming generation- is run out of the local school/orphanage, where we work directly with the 400 kids that live on the campus.
Once we arrive to Mindo, it takes all of the clinics about half a day to set up our “pop up clinics” throughout the school’s campus. All of the equipment and materials we use are donated from back home in the States. Over the following 5 days, we see patients from about 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. A vast majority of the people that we see are from Mindo, but patients come from long and far, by vehicle and by foot, to be seen. We saw patients that came all the way from Colombia! In our dental clinic, we did fillings, extractions, cleanings, and fluoride. We are, however, limited due to the lack of X-Rays. Our main goal is to get the patients out of pain.
The attitude and demeanor of the patients we see in Ecuador is unlike any other. Many of these patients have hardly anything, but following a procedure, you are met with love, thankfulness, and a million hugs. It is a beautiful thing to see people who have no way to pay you back express just that with tears in their eyes, but the reality is that they have given me (and I believe I can speak for many people on our team) so much more than I could ever give them.
There is an incredible amount of need for help there, and seeing these patients reminds me of the real reason why I chose dentistry as a profession- to directly impact the lives of those who need it most. I was left with a quote from one of the students who said, “el mejor medico es el que inspira esperanza” which means “the best doctor is the one who inspires hope.” I am honored to have served for my third year in Mindo, Ecuador, and hope to continue to serve in the future.
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