"If you don't have a smile, I'll give you one of mine." Unknown author
(see more before and after pictures below)
The Smile that Almost Was
by Paul Opp
The moments of victory and healing are wonderful and we savor them. The uncomfortable moments are far too frequent and I chose my words carefully when telling someone that we can’t help them.
The other day, Dr. Ray Lunt, from our last medical group, arrived at our dental clinic and faced twice as many patients as he was expecting. A new technique allows him to make a complete set of dentures in less than two hours.
Dr. Ray quickly checked the extra patients to see if they were a good fit for this new procedure and sadly, one of the ladies simply was not a viable candidate. He explained the problem gently and expected the twinkle in the eyes of this elderly woman to fade, but instead, something marvelous happened.
This dear old grandmother hugged and kissed Dr. Lunt and through tears of joy, thanked him over and over for the blessing that he was, to the friends and community members being helped, and promised to keep Dr. Lunt in her heart and prayers as he helped other people, even in other parts of the world….
Blessings come our way in many forms, and sometimes it looks like we have been passed over, but we all learned, just the other day, what it looks like to celebrate someone else’s joy and good fortune.
Ironic isn’t it? Twenty four people, all with new white dentures, but the smile we all remember, belongs to the lady with no teeth.
We hope you enjoy the amazing and beautiful transformation these people experienced as a result of Dr. Ray’s work.
Those of us who suffer, or know someone who suffers, from a less than perfect set of teeth are aware of the potential physical and emotional scars. Smiles boost our happiness levels, relieve stress, and raise our confidence, which can lead to promotions in the work place (or just plain-old, getting a job). It seems that smiling should be a natural and happy response for all human beings , yet for many people in Iquitos, that ability is compromised by a lifetime of insufficient dental care.
One of the major health concerns in Iquitos is tooth decay. Most people, too poor to afford the high price of clean water, are driven to parch their thirst with soda or sugary juices, even young children. With this and insufficient educational programs for proper dental hygiene, it is common to be pulling decayed teeth out of 6 year old children, and to see people in their mid-30's with no teeth at all. Lucky for the People of Peru Project, we were able to witness the incredible gift of giving someone their smile, and see the emotional and physical transformation it brings. Our first volunteer group came to us with a dentist who was able to do beautiful work. His gift wasn't extravagant in monetary value, nor did it take much preparation to execute. In only two short hours or less, he gave the gift of a smile that will last a lifetime.
There is still much work to be done for the people of Iquitos, Peru. No matter how many groups come or how large they are, there will always be needs that haven’t been met, wounds that haven’t been healed, a head that doesn’t have a roof, or a mouth that hasn’t been fed. The pictures you see above are just a small part of the joy we can all bring to others when we take the oportunity to sacrifice our time and come out of our comfort zone in order to live the life of someone else. As exemplified by the story above, sometimes the desire to help is all it takes to change a life.
People of Peru Project is so thankful to be able to experience these transformation moments. This was the first time we have had the ability to perform these types of procedures, and it will not be the last.
Serve to Live, Live to Serve.