While our International Smile Projects are a tremendous opportunity for the Smiles for Everyone Foundation (“SFE Foundation”) to make a “hands on” difference in the lives of people in other countries who don’t have regular access to dental care, a vital purpose of the missions is to enable local dental teams to provide continuing dental care after the mission has ended to those in need in each country where we send a SEAL Team (Service Expedition Accelerating Leaders).
The SFE Foundation’s International Outpost program provides support to an Outpost Dental Team that includes the Outpost Clinical Director – a qualified local dentist – plus a dental team to conduct regular dental visits to those most in need who don’t have regular access to dental care. This work is done under the auspices of a local non-profit organization that partners with SFE Foundation. We provide the team with portable dental equipment similar to that used by the SEAL Teams in the field and we support their ongoing outreaches with necessary resources.
To assist the Outpost Teams, Smile Brands’ affiliated dentists who visited the country as part of a SEAL Team have been asked to serve as International Ambassadors for the Outposts. These International Ambassadors will stay in touch and offer mentorship and encouragement to the International Outpost Clinical Directors.
“When we were planning the first dental mission trip, we knew it was important to find partners in each country who could continue the work,” says Steve Bilt. “Now after visiting Paraguay and Thailand, we saw that for some patients a day’s delay in their getting treatment can make a world of difference to their long-term health.”
The SFEF’s mission is to provide dental care to those most in need throughout the world. Smile Brands has been doing this by sending groups of volunteers, called “SEAL Teams”, comprised of employees of Smile Brands Inc. and its affiliated dental groups, to provide dental services in the communities where there is a need. SFEF will continue these mission trips with Smile Brands volunteers. To ensure the work continues after the SEAL Teams leave, SFEF works with local non-profit organizations to find dentists willing to donate part of their time to treat the underserved, with support from SFEF.
In Paraguay the International Outpost liaison is Judah Mooney, above, Director, Diaconia/Asociación para el Desarrollo del Paraguay (Association for Paraguay Development) who introduced Dr. Samuel “Samy” Avalos, left, to SEAL Team One. Judah works with SFEF to ensure Dr. Samy has the supplies and equipment he needs to continue caring for the children in the orphanages and nutrition centers SEAL Team One visited. “We are also focusing on helping the poor in the squatter zones,” adds Judah.
“It was a privilege for me to work alongside SEAL Team One, to learn from them and to serve the poorest in my country,” says Dr. Avalos. “Like all busy professionals, it is a challenge to take time from our busy schedules and leave our practices to do social dental care. But it is personally satisfying to give the best care possible to these patients who have such desperate needs.”
Enoch “Nok” Sirikul, President of the Foundation for Leadership and Life Enhancement and Chairman of the “Love Thailand” Project, is the International Outpost liaison in Thailand. His project manager, Narissara Jearajetchai – known as “Oh” – works with Siriporn Rattanachetkul, D.D.S., Ph.D., or “Dr. Gem” as everyone knows her, to continue the work of SEAL Team Two.
“In the Chiang Rai area, there are more potential locations where the community would love to have us visit,” reports Dr. Gem. “Even a juvenile correction facility has heard about our work, and said, ‘We would love for you to help these kids, because these are youngsters no one has ever helped before.’ ”
“We also visited one elderly man who was treated by the SEAL Team. He had his remaining teeth pulled is now able to use false teeth and eat without pain. He was so happy and thankful; he said the doctors were great.”