SPREADING SMILES IN HAITI, ONE SMILE AT A TIME

SPREADING SMILES IN HAITI, ONE SMILE AT A TIME

3/11/2019

By Andrew Fowler

DENTIST FROM CANADIAN COUNCIL TRAVELS TO HAITI TO HELP POOR RECEIVE CARE.

Dr. Adrian Power, a member of Holy Spirit Council 6792 in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland, had been wanting to apply his dentistry to help people in Haiti for a few years. In Jan. 2018, he finally got the opportunity.

“It allowed me to give willingly of my talents,” Power said. “I expected no payment for this service, just the good feeling for doing something for another person who otherwise could not afford that particular service. That in itself is worth the trip.”

This past January (2019) he returned to Haiti to provide dental services with the Canadian International Dental Foundation. The group has a motto, “Spreading Smiles in Haiti, One Smile at a Time.”

Power has been practicing dentistry for 30 years since graduating from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. He has also been a member of the Holy Spirit Council in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada since 1992. Power said that the trips to Haiti helped him grow as a Catholic and a Knight.

“I believe you join the Knights to help others — the weak, the poor and the needy,” Power said. “Even small contributions can add to improve local conditions.”

For 10 days, that’s just what they did as Power and other dentists worked in a clinic and journeyed through villages in the jungle surrounding Pétion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, the capital of the country.

The dental group stayed at a compound owned by the George Stines Foundation, a program that provides dental services throughout Haiti. From there, they trekked up the mountains to Jacmel and Bassin-Bleu.

Rising at 4 a.m., Power and the other dentists traveled for hours to reach the mountain villages. While conducting screenings and oral exams, Power and the group averaged almost 250 patients each day. The dentists performed cleanings, fillings or extractions for 150 to 175 people daily. For some Haitians, it was the first time they had received dental care.

“The village is always excited by just the idea of a visitor and more so in that we offer free dental care to anyone who wants it,” Power said.

Some of the cases Power saw were critical. In one instance, he tended to a 16-year-old girl who needed all of her right-sided teeth removed because they had rotted to stumps. Other patients he saw had lip cancers and large dental abscesses that made “the swollen cheek look like the patient has a balloon in their mouth.”

“Most of the patients are grateful for their treatment and some will be excited with the dental filling they get, especially if it is a front tooth,” Power said. “Every patient is given a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. It is for some, their first and probably only toothbrush.”

The villages Power visited had poor sanitation and many lacked electricity and potable water. The dental group relied on generators to provide proper care. They also collected and purified their drinking and working water in large drums.

The Knights of Columbus is the largest fraternal Catholic organization, with more than 1.9 million members worldwide. Last year, members donated $185 million and volunteered over 75 million hours.

To learn more about the Knights, click here.

Share your story with andrew.fowler@kofc.org

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