By Clinic Day 4, we unload and unpack our equipment/supply bins with the ease of a finely tuned pit crew. We arrive to patients waiting in the shade of the few trees in the churchyard.
Inside the church, patients, some visiting the dentist for the first time, are offered a hand up onto table tops. They bravely squeeze the hands of strangers they have only just met—strangers bearing smiles and offering comfort, relief of pain and treatment of infection.
And while translators are on hand to bridge the language barrier, the smiles, handshakes and hugs inside the four walls need no translation.
At home, I’ve never had a dentist offer a hug after a difficult procedure, or a volunteer hold my hand during a filling. But I have also never had to wait in line outside a clinic to make sure I am treated. I have never had to wonder when my next opportunity might be. I have never had to face surrendering three day’s wages for an extraction if I miss the opportunity in front of me.
The churchyard is quiet now. The final patient dismounts the table top (the last of over one hundred people treated tirelessly each day). She extends a hand to her dentist. No words are exchanged. But she smiles. He smiles back. Both speaking volumes. Loud and clear.
Be the reason someone smiles today.