I recall the day after I returned from a week-long dental mission journey in Sierra Leone, a rustic on the southwest coast of West Africa. I used to be strolling to work in New York Metropolis. For a second, it felt like I’d by no means been to Kono, a district in Sierra Leone’s war-torn japanese province. I’m residing in a metropolis with tons of eating places and bakeries round me. I’ve by no means apprehensive about having sufficient water or electrical energy changing into a luxurious product.
However I used to be there, together with a school member, an assistant and 5 classmates from Buffalo. We left behind our love, hope and constructive energies to the locals of Kono.
Why I joined the mission journey
I immigrated to the US in 2011. I got here from a village in China that has some similarities with Kono, the place generally there isn’t electrical energy. (Thankfully, water will not be a priority in my village). At first, I didn’t know the place Sierra Leone was positioned. I used Google maps to search out it. It’s a largely rural, agricultural-focused nation wealthy in minerals, among the many high 10 diamond-producing nations. Medical care will not be readily accessible all through the nation, with docs and hospitals out of attain for a lot of villagers. Dr. Emanuel Gambacorta, a school member on the journey, visited Sierra Leone earlier than the -COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this go to, his purpose was to teach the workers of a well being heart in Kono in order that after we left the data would keep and proceed to learn the group’s oral well being. This concept is what attracted me to take part within the mission journey.
Earlier than our journey, Dr. Gambacorta shared an article (“Excellent news to the poor”) from a Kono resident who expressed his appreciation of a earlier mission journey. I used to be touched by his phrases however realized the actual which means of them after my journey.
Through the mission journey
After a 16-hour flight, we arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This was adopted by a five-hour automotive experience to the Adama Martha Memorial Group Well being Middle in Kono. Phebian Abdulai, a refugee who fled to the US in the course of the 1991-2002 Sierra Leone Civil Battle, constructed the well being heart. She grew to become a nurse in America and returned to Sierra Leone to serve.
We spent our first day attending to know the well being heart and its workers. We launched silver diamine fluoride and fluoride so the workers can present preventive care with restricted data and gear. All workers participated with enthusiasm. You might sense the will to enhance and obtain data to assist their sufferers.
Throughout our keep, we primarily served the locals with easy dental procedures and extractions with restricted gear for the remainder of the week. There have been many heartfelt moments from the journey. One concerned my classmate, Lauren. The day after Lauren handled her affected person, the affected person got here again to the well being heart along with her older sister. The affected person was quiet, taking a look at me and Lauren. I requested if she had any wants. She stared at us shyly and at last requested, “Do you need to make mates with us?” One other affected person, a younger boy, shared his dream of changing into a physician sooner or later.
On our manner again to the airport, we noticed teams of individuals dressing as much as have fun highschool commencement. Dr. Gambacorta stated, “Isn’t it superb all of us have fun the identical occasions regardless of the place we’re?” Whereas Sierra Leone appears so totally different from the US, individuals nonetheless have fun the identical joys and events.
Again in New York
In the course of August, violent protests broke out in Sierra Leone, triggered by the hovering prices of residing. It was tough to picture only a few weeks again I used to be strolling a canine after dinner within the native streets. Every little thing appeared peaceable at the moment. I puzzled concerning the challenges the well being system would face after the protests.
Collaborating on this mission journey allowed me to study and develop in my ability. However, most significantly, the journey reshaped my character. If in case you have an opportunity to serve in Sierra Leone, go. It’s a rustic with few dentists. Being there may be the “excellent news to the poor.” The locals have a combating spirit. The seeds we plant will develop and blossom whereas delivering love and hope.
~Ting Xue, Buffalo ’23
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