When a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rattled Central Mexico, it sent shockwaves throughout Mexico City, the capital, and surrounding states including Puebla, Mexico and Morelos. Within Morelos, the small, modest town of Jojutla was among the hardest hit.
The town’s landmark belltower was destroyed in the quake, along with its local marketplace- one that drove Jojutla’s local economy. By December, though, residents were still picking themselves up, and for many it would be a financial struggle to seek the proper medical attention and care.
Yet, the Tzu Chi International Medical Association knew that while hosting free medical clinics would help, dental services would be needed, too. After all, it was Welsh poet George Herbert who once said “music helps not the toothache.”
A Dental Intervention
With a team of volunteer dentists, including local professionals, TIMA travelled to Jojutla to setup and host a free dental clinic. Services began with a tooth brushing demonstration for those waiting to register and get treatment- an integral part of all TIMA dental clinics.
While education is a critical, there were already severe problems demonstrated by many in attendance. One such patient, Santos Garcia Martinez, had both a molar and loose tooth taken out. For her, it was a frightening procedure she knew would ultimately have a positive outcome.
Many expressed their angst in seeking dental treatment in the quake-stricken town. Jojutla mom Lilia Martinez Leonardo coaxed her frightened son to get a needed extraction under one condition: if they attended the free dental clinic, she would buy him a gift with some of the money she may have otherwise spent seeing a private dentist.
It Feels Good to Do Good
Volunteers in the dental team seemed as grateful as some of the many patients they saw. In one instance, Dr. Shirley Chen, soothed a patient through an extraction. In fact, it’s this compassionate approach that has become the signature of all our medical efforts. She teared up sharing her end of it.
Patients, too, showed their appreciation in a variety of ways. For many dental professionals, they are gestures they don’t normally see in their regular offices.