Volunteer Stories

These stories are a testament to people helping people. From the field or after a trip, you’ll see how not only the lives of those helped were changed but also those of the volunteers. We encourage you to share your experience with others. Send an email to international@ada.org. We look forward to hearing your story.

Unique Uganda

Exotic and intriguing Africa was the destination.  I had heard about Uganda, though I wasn’t certain were it was.  I had even had my excitement perked when, as a dental student forty some years ago, we had been assigned to Nigeria, then Ethiopia, then Kenya, never to get there.  Rather, I was diverted to Bella Vista Hospital’s mission dental clinic, when, even with Canadian Boards, a work permit (Kenya dental license) could not be arranged without a year of private practice.  Being asked by Koren Borland, DDS, FADI (Vice Regent, SW US, USA Section, Academy of Dentistry International) a few months ago, I didn’t have to think twice about this. After much preparation (visas, donations from companies at ADA in Las Vegas, instruments, materials,... read more

Volunteer and See the Beautiful Dominican Republic

At 4:53 PM local time on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in recorded history occurred in the country of Haiti when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the country. Haiti which is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere occupies the western 1/3 of the second largest island in the Caribbean, Hispaniola, with its neighbor the Dominican Republic. Although there has historically been a Haitian presence in the Dominican Republic, this disaster resulted in even more Haitians heading West in search of a better life and better health. Ironically, the healthcare delivery system in the Dominican Republic leaves much to be desired for even its own citizens by International standards. After practicing dentistry for almost 20 years and retiring... read more

Light of the World Charities

I went on a Medical/Brigade to Honduras June 22-28, 2008. Light of the World Charities runs 7-8 Brigades each year to one of the poorest neighborhoods in Comayagua, Honduras.  Surgeons and nurses from the USA come down and do surgeries all week. The mission site has a full time medical clinic staffed by Honduran physicians. The clinic also has a two-chair dental suite which is staffed by Honduran dentists and assistants.  But the people up in the mountain villages had no dentistry at all.  A dentist from Florida, who had a number of years of experience doing field dentistry in the mountains of South and Central America, volunteered for service in Honduras.  So our little team included  Dr. Dave Girlinghouse, two Honduran assistants, two American missionaries (who... read more

I Was There...

I Was There…. Last week I met a Peruvian Woman in a small village near Cusco, Peru. She was in her 80s which is old for her culture. Her clothes were dirty and worn. Her hair was strewn in small tangled wisps above her head. Her skin was weathered, dirty, and dry. It appeared as though she was in her final days. Her face was swollen from a lower, infected tooth. This was a poor woman, and life and time has taken its toll on her body. This tooth had ravaged her for weeks and brought this proud woman to our makeshift dental clinic. She was in pain, unyielding pain. Our dental hygienist anesthetized her with several injections of local anesthetic, and we waited for the drug to take effect. She never made eye contact with any of us. She just sat there quietly and waited. We waited.... read more

Lao Dental Family

When I left Laos, I felt I had fulfilled a lifelong dream, except I hadn’t dreamed it yet – the dream had created itself while I was awake.   So deep were the connections, so new and diverse were the experiences, and so warm were the friendships, that my life’s values were expanded and recalibrated.I went to Laos with the ADA sponsored program through Health Volunteers Overseas – a non-profit organization that supports healthcare education in developing nations.  It was the HVO concept – to teach and share ideas for capacity building that would have a long-term sustainable positive effect on the health of an underserved population - that struck me as a worthy goal for a volunteer activity.  As a private practice dentist, my teaching had... read more


Sonrisas Sanas Nicaragua

Dental volunteers are needed year round in Nicaragua. For additional information contact Dra. Nardys Fridman, info@sonrisassanasnicaragua.com or visit http://sonrisassanasnicaragua.com/mission/dentalvolunteer