With every outreach service trip, DCI has learned that understanding community complexities helps mitigate unexpected challenges; it is the nature of providing care in hard to reach locations around the world. When trying to offer any service while working in remote areas issues inevitably arise regardless of how many times DCI may visit that location. Of course, each time DCI revisit, problems become less severe and less complicated to resolve.
When providing dental care to children in remote locations, we need specific amenities that are crucial to our operations. Some of the more important ones include electricity and water. While we would still be able to provide some amount of dental care without these two amenities, the level of treatment would be compromised.
For example, we use mobile dental units that require electricity. With these units, dentists and hygienists can work effectively and efficiently in providing services to many children. Additionally, we need water for instrument sterilization. As one might imagine, when out in the field these two utilities can be hard to source. Even when electricity is present it isn’t necessarily adequate in that the current can fluctuate and blow the fuses on our mobile units. Because of this, bringing spare fuses is a must.
Another factor we must accommodate for is our amazing volunteers. When we travel to remote locations we try and stay at the best hotels possible. The problem with this is that the populations most in need of our care typically are not close to hotels that have clean water, wifi, air conditioning, etc. Adequate accommodations are often a good distance away from the service sites. While it makes traveling a little more cumbersome, we have concluded this is a sacrifice most volunteers will accept in order to have a more comfortable experience. However, this is not always the case; sometimes we stay at a great hotel while being relatively close the service site.
All in all, understanding community complexities is an important aspect of international outreach trips. Volunteers and members of DCI who travel on international trips are aware of these facts and know it’s all a part of the experience. We always try and make the best of any unfavorable situation that arises. And above all else, what makes it all worth it is seeing children who needed our help with big happy smiles!