HOW IT ALL BEGAN
This journey began with a simple to say but difficult to do mission: increase access to oral healthcare for the world’s neediest children in order to alleviate the suffering that stems from the most common childhood disease in the world, dental decay. I say “difficult” because tooth and gum deterioration affects more than 60 percent of the school children in the world, and dental disease is the fourth most expensive condition to treat even in most industrialized countries. The problem and associated costs are enormous.
All the more reason to tackle it now, I said to myself back in 2001. When I started down this path, I didn’t know what was around the bend that next week, never mind what lay 15 years in the future. Saying that this whole thing has been a learning experience would be an understatement. And to be able to adequately thank everyone who has helped along the way would be impossible. Looking forwards to the future, to know where it will all end up would be nice, but the only way to see what’s on the other side of the mountain is to keep climbing.
Each day, my team and I hold on to the vision of a world where kids don’t suffer from dental cavities or miss out on school because of tooth pain, where healthy smiles are the norm rather than the exception, and where families are educated about the importance of oral health before their babies are born.
I hope you’ll agree it’s a vision worth working for, and I hope you’ll join us in the year to come – as a donor, sponsor, or volunteer.
Dawn McClellan, DDS, MS
Like many great things, Dental Care International (DCI) started small. The initial vision was to bring desperately needed dental care and pain relief to hurting children in one community. The years since have brought big changes – and big smiles, both to the helped and the helpers.
Initially, teams provided dental care to children in orphanages, refugee camps, and rural tea plantations. In 2012, as the work in war-torn Sri Lanka continued, DCI started a one-year residential dental assistant training program for orphaned and abused young women and opened an accompanying permanent dental clinic.
In 2005, with support from Clark County, Nevada, DCI opened its first dental clinic in Las Vegas. The staff and volunteers at the Las Vegas clinic today see more than 15,000 patients each year, providing comprehensive pediatric dentistry and orthodontic services. Children are provided with care regardless of their parents’ ability to pay for services.
DCI expanded into Ecuador in 2009 and has collaborated with both the Universidad de Cuenca and Universidad Catolica de Cuenca Facultad de Odontologia dental programs in order to develop mobile dental clinics for poor school children in remote Andean villages. Twice each year, DCI teams from the U.S. travel to the Andes and work in partnership with Ecuadorian dental students, university faculty, and local dentists to provide much needed dental care and oral health education.
What is DCI’s hope for the future? More volunteers to support outreaches financially, more sponsors for Sri Lankan dental assistant trainees, and more dentists to share in the vision of healthy children living happily around the world.
From inception as a two-person partnership to a team of more than 20 local staff and numerous volunteers, our story is one of vision, hands-on work and hope.
Mike PeQueen, CFA, CFP