Our first day of the trip, we left the capital city of Laos, Vientiane, and headed for the city of Sawanaket – a distance of only about125 miles). But it took about 5 hours in travel time because of the poor condition of the highway.
We treated patients there for 2 days before continuing to another area in the southern region of Laos about 150 kilometers further into the rural part of the country. Many times we were afraid that our vehicle would slide right off the road! Once we were stuck and it took quite a long time to get out. Several times the road was blocked by downed trees, and we had to wait for help from locals to clear the path. When we finally arrived at our destination, we spent 3 days holding clinics there.
A total of 320 patients received care throughout our five days of treatment, that included children and adults, including many of the elderly, The people were very happy to receive care and many waited patiently for hours to see the dentists. The children were especially patient and hardly any of them cried during their treatment! Their parents and relatives who brought the children told us, “These kids have been hurting for such a long time, they are happy to see the dentists!”
As for adults and the elderly, some were thin and emaciated because they had been experiencing pain for such a long time. Some of them weighed less than 90 pounds because of the pain involved in eating. After receiving treatment, many told us, “We’re so happy that we won’t hurt anymore. Now we can eat again!