Dr. Paul Feit’s Mission Trip to Honduras!
I have heard many wonderful things about Ahuas, Honduras from my friend Rick Nelson, who has spent a great deal of time there over the years. Up until now, we have only been able to help the people of Ahuas through donations from Dentistry by Design. Thanks to the great team of dentists at DBD I was able to remove myself from the schedule for a week and go see for myself the place and people that have profoundly impacted Rick’s life.
My journey was eye-opening to say the least. I traveled with Sturgeon Bay’s Amie Glasheen (pictured on left), who is a fourth-year dental student at Marquette. She was my assistant and also helped treat patients in the dental clinic in Ahuas. Third-year Marquette dental student Mariella Kruthoff (pictured on right) was also part of our team. Mariella interpreted for us as well as provided care to some of the patients. We were met by Rick who got us to the village safely and provided us with room and board during our stay.
There are only two ways into Ahuas, by dugout canoe or airplane. Here we are unloading our gear from the twin turbine that we just landed in on a semi-gravel strip in Bruce, Honduras. This is the terminal, puddles and all. We transferred our four hundred pounds of gear and four passengers into a Cessna 206 and somehow managed to get off the ground in route to Ahuas. As a fellow Cessna pilot, you can imagine my surprise when I realized my seat was not attached to the airplane. I had a hard time deciding if I was better off with the seat belt on or off.
Arriving safely in Ahuas, we began our mission work. The dental room was powered by a combination of solar power and generator. The equipment is old and very used, but worked as we needed it to. My operator stool had been duct taped and only had 4 out of five wheels. Although new equipment would be ideal, shipping it to the clinic often costs many times more than the price of the equipment, which is an expense they cannot afford.
Amie, Mariella and I treated over 100 patients in 4.5 days. We filled dozens of teeth and extracted over 170 teeth. The residents of Ahuas have previously only had access to a dentist one week a year. For the last twelve years, a couple from Ohio has graciously gone down to Ahuas one week a year to provide dental care. We were the first team to go there to focus on Oral Surgery. You can imagine there was no shortage of work for us.
The heat was so extreme in Ahuas that by 10 a.m., which is when this picture was taken, I had already sweat through my scrub top. I carried a towel to dry my hands enough so I could put my gloves on for procedures. The woman pictured here walked an hour each way, for three days straight, until we were able to get her to the front of the line. She had three infected teeth and had been in pain for months. We were able to get her out of pain and treat her to the best of our ability.
We also visited the Christian School in Ahuas which had about 50 students. We gave them a toothbrush, paste, fluoride treatment and an exam as well as notebooks, colored pencils, stickers, scissors and a soccer ball. Here they are getting a lesson from Amie and Mariella on the proper way to brush their teeth.
I am still sitting back mentally digesting this trip. I can’t believe what we saw there. What a different world. In America, we are more fortunate than we even know. We should all pause and give thanks for our many blessings!