I can only start by saying I am incredibly honored and blessed to be part of such a special community in La Ciudad de la Esperanza. I have now been able to participate as a provider for three straight years and it is incredible to see substantial growth in that short period of time. The real estate to provide health care has doubled and what once was a bare bones dental room in 2021 is now overflowing with dental materials, instruments, hygiene kits, and educational posters to help meet the dental needs of the community in Coban.
I couldn’t help but notice it is not only the physical space that is growing, but also the relationships and trust with our patients as well. Last year, I met a wonderful woman named Angela who came in with horrible tooth pain seeking our help. It took a lot of kind words and a tremendous team to help her overcome the fear and anxiety of getting a tooth extracted, but by the end, she was smiling through tears. I was surprised to see her return this year, a much different woman than the year before. I was even more surprised when I asked her what brought her to the dental clinic. She replied, “last year, you told me I needed another tooth taken out and that’s why I am back.” I no longer saw the fearful person from a year ago and I was so touched that she remembered my advice and decided to follow through. We were able to complete several extractions and fillings in no time and she walked out with toothbrushes and toothpaste for her whole family. It was also great to see our amazing group of students placing fluoride varnishes and the parents who entrusted us with the care of their children.
As I reflect on our time in the clinic this year, I am incredibly grateful to the medical team and Dr Pramuk, and Padre Sergio and the entire team at La Ciudad de la Esperanza for having a vision and planting the seeds for capacity. I am also grateful for everyone who has touched this project. I am grateful for every team of students who have sacrificed their time and effort all year long to learn about the people of Guatemala and provide care. I am grateful for an incredible medical team for the countless hours it takes to keep this project running and for the love shared with each other. I am grateful for our partners at La Ciudad who keep the school and clinic running to provide for the people of Coban. Most importantly, I am grateful for the donors who continue to support this project each year and allow for all of this to be possible. Thank you all for continuing to pour water so this special community may continue to grow.
Christian Alegria, DMD