Most students and faculty who organize and participate in overseas mission trips are motivated by the sincere desire to help others. Often they pay for their own travel through combinations of personal assets, donations and active fundraising. I think these mission trips are well-intended acts of caring. However, as a public health dentist I question the decision to spend so much time and money providing services that generally do very little to eliminate the underlying disease process, do not empower communities to improve their health status and waste resources on travel that might be spent in a much more cost-effective way to achieve improved oral health.
It was early 2015 when we heard how Chapel Hill shooting victims, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusar Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were tragically killed. Deah was a second-year student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, and a committed ASDA member. Deah left behind a tremendous legacy to inspire others. His life was filled with moments of love and caring for people around him and beyond. Not only did he choose dentistry as a means to serve people but he also undertook a mission trip to Palestine. He won the hearts of so many and was planning to go on another dental mission trip to Turkey. In remembrance of Deah, the United Muslim Relief (UMR) conducted a Haiti dental mission trip in November 2015.