Buffalo delivers ‘good news to the poor’ in Sierra Leone

I recall the day after I returned from a week-long dental mission trip in Sierra Leone, a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. I was walking to work in New York City. For a moment, it felt like I’d never been to Kono, a district in Sierra Leone’s war-torn eastern province. I’m living in a city with tons of restaurants and bakeries around me. I’ve never worried about having enough water or electricity becoming a luxury product.

But I was there, along with a faculty member, an assistant and five classmates from Buffalo. We left behind our love, hope and positive energies to the locals of Kono.

Should dental outreach be done at home or abroad?

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.

Deah’s legacy carried in Haiti dental mission trip

IMG-20151124-WA0032It 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.