This past spring break, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Honduras to serve the people of the rural community through Global Medical/Dental Brigades. 10 U of A students, including myself, joined together with students from Appalachian State University and Stetson University to help three different underserved communities. In the first three days, we worked with several doctors to help assess the medical condition of over 700 patients in the community of El Obraje, assisted dentists as they did fillings and extractions, packaged prescriptions with the pharmacist for each patient we saw that day, and provided reading glasses to patients with poor vision. We even had the opportunity to take part of children’s Charla sessions where we taught kids how to brush their teeth and provided fluoride treatments to make their teeth strong. On the fourth day, we worked alongside members of the community El Presa, building trenches to provide access to running water to each family within that community. On the last day, we traveled to the community of Chandala and built hygiene stations with the aid of an assigned family. These hygiene stations were the equivalent of a bathroom with a latrine connected to an underground septic tank, shower, and a water storage unit. Each day was composed of hard but fulfilling work that I will never forget.
What made the trip so unforgettable was meeting the people in the rural communities of Honduras. I had never seen so many happy and grateful smiles in one area. Even though mi español es muy mal, each patient and community member were so patient and grateful that we were trying to help. They put so much trust into us and welcomed us as if we were members of the community. I still cannot stop thinking about the last day, talking with the adorable family while building the hygiene station about whatever came to our mind even with the language barrier. Seven hours felt like one and saying goodbye was never so difficult. I was so grateful for them showing me and reaffirming why I have decided to become a dentist and a part of health care: Helping those in need and witnessing a smile be born is an experience that has no true price tag.
This quick trip has been one of the most humbling experiences I have taken part of and has definitely changed my perspective of life. I met so many amazing people both from Honduras and from the other schools. I wished I could have stayed longer, but now my passion to become a dentist serving underserved communities has never been stronger.