Sitting up straight on a long wooden bench at the Clinica San Francisco with his sombrero sunk deep over his head, Agathon Sanchez, 62, waits patiently for a dentist to attend to him. It is 8 in the morning and the sun is already beating clown hard on Choluteca, a town in the southern part of Honduras.
“We Ieft Plan de Jocote over there in the mountain at 5 this morning. We walked six kilometres, then boarded the bus that brought us here. We shall go back the same way,” explains Adelaida Torres, a community health worker accompanying the people who have come to meet the Dentistes Sans Frontières.
The DSF team, consisting of Doctors Paul Germain and Joanne Éthier, final year student Razieh Razavynia and dental assistant Marie-Claude Germain, was visiting for a week, intending to provide as much care to as many people as possible. There were many ailments to be treated, but despite the torrid heat and the makeshift equipment at their disposal, the Dentistes Sans Frontières performed miner miracles. Between February 18 and 24, 2001, the team treated 150 women, men and children.
Altogether this translates into 209 teeth extracted, 72 fillings, 11 cleaning operations and two post-operation treatments. Splitting into groups, the team even went out to the patients on three occasions. One morning, Dr Joanne Éthier and Marie-Claude Germain loaded their chair in a small van and on a bumpy road, went out to Agua Caliente, a mountain village a few hours away. Working conditions were even worse than at the clinic itself but the care given was greatly appreciated because the patients did not have to walk for hours to meet the dentists.
“We extracted 61 teeth in four hours. That was an unforgettable experience for me;’ said Dr Éthier with obvious satisfaction. On the Thursday afternoon, Dr Paul Germain and Razieh Razavynia travelled with the chair to go treat patients who has been scheduled at the San Fable Clinic, located in an underprivileged area of Choluteca.
The next morning, Dr. Joanne Ethier and Razieh Razavynia journeyed to a small village ten kilometres from Choluteca. They set up their equipment in the church and worked ail morning under the curious eyes of urchins peeping in through the windows. “We help people in real need and we feel satisfaction in doing so, as we feel drawn closer to our fellow human beings”. These are the words of Razieh as she tried to describe the value she attained from her experience of working with Dentistes Sans Frontières.