A trip to the dentist

This is the next blog in our #GoBeyondHope Series, featuring on-the-ground updates from Annette and Nathan as they visit our ministry locations in Kenya and Uganda.

Elizabeth's mud house in Kenya Elizabeth, at her home in Kenya

How many times have you been to the dentist? From the time our first tooth broke through, most have us have had our teeth incredibly well taken care of. We have dental insurance. We get our reminder post card in the mail every six months, and our dental hygienists find any problems before they even start to hurt us. We take our great teeth for granted. But not everyone is so lucky.

Elizabeth enjoys a strawberry yogurt drink Enjoying a post-dental treat!

Earlier this week, we met Elizabeth Karuma in Kenya. Her little smile lights up her face, however, her teeth are anything but pearly white. Elizabeth’s family is very poor – they struggle just to feed everyone. The luxury of dental work is out of the question, no matter how badly your jaw hurts. At nine years old, Elizabeth’s teeth are already rotting. She complained so much of the pain that our staff in Kenya decided to intervene. They scheduled her to see Dr. Faith, her first ever trip to the Dentist! We got to tag along to her appointment.

After examining Elizabeth’s discolored teeth, Dr. Faith decided one of them was so bad it needed to be pulled immediately. How many children do you know who have such bad teeth they have to be pulled? To us, it was shocking news. But for Dr. Faith it was normal – most of her patients have terrible teeth.

Dr. Faith poses in her office Dr. Faith

Elizabeth was a great patient! She was so brave, even getting stuck with a giant anesthetic needle. The procedure went well, and now Elizabeth has a little less rot in her mouth! On the way home we stopped at the grocery store to get some soft foods for her to eat while recovering from surgery. Awed by all the choices, she finally picked some strawberry flavored yogurt. She’d never been in a market so huge. The excitement was almost worth the dental pain.

Elizabeth is probably the only one of her friends to have ever been to the dentist. There are only about 700 registered dentists in all of Kenya, so access to good care is very low, and for children living in poverty it’s almost non-existent. But thanks to our Starfish Medical Fund, we were able to ensure that Elizabeth at least is well taken care of. It’s great to see our funds making a tangible difference in the lives of real children.

Dr. Faith pulling Elizabeth's tooth Ouch! Elizabeth was so brave

...Did you know? 

Water in the Rift Valley in Kenya naturally has extremely high levels of fluoride. Average ground water samples have fluoride content as much as 50 times higher than what the World Health Organization says is safe. Ancient volcanic activity in the region affected the water throughout the entire valley, and now it is rotting teeth and bones. Elizabeth was in desperate need of dental care not just because she’d never been to the dentist before – it’s also because her water is slowly poisoning her. That's just one more reason why we're so excited about building our rainwater catchment systems!

We’ll be posting updates from Annette and Nathan throughout their journey. Along the way, they’ll explore what it takes to create real transformation in a broken world. Follow along to see what they discover! Sign up for email updates to be sure you never miss a post! And follow them on Instagram!

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