Today was special. We woke up, had breakfast and began our journey. The electricity only went out twice last night so we got a lot of sleep.
We began the day by going to City Soliel which is known as the biggest slum in the Western Hemisphere. We saw so many things. It was a definite switch from the well-groomed standard we had become accustomed to at Grace Village.
Instead of seeing ravines full of fresh running water we saw ravines of destructed garbage swarming with flies and maggots . The images running through our minds are endless. The biggest moments of the day included Trista holding a little toddler who didn't have pants on who had a herniated belly button. He delicately held his belly button in his own hand as Trista grasped him tightly, holding him, giving him affection. Obviously this moment would throw anyone out of there comfort zone, but Trista handled it with extreme grace and compassion. It was a moment for us all to see. The mother was grateful to see someone taking interest in her child.
The water we dispensed was out of a large fire hose - like tube in which people line up their buckets very quickly to ensure we are not wasting any water. When the truck runs out of water, that is all the water they get for the day, or for even the next couple days.
Dr. Zollinger noticed that the extreme desperation he noticed one year ago was diminished. People still lined up large 5 gallon buckets in an attempt to collect as much water as possible, but it wasn't to the point that people were fighting and being physically involved in getting it. They use it for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and general hygiene. I personally felt like I was delivering life. When the water truck arrived they blast the horn. People appeared out of tin huts with large buckets and came quickly to gather their share of water. It was an amazing moment. Water is their survival and their lifeline. The last time I moved that fast I was running home to get my order in with the Schwans man. It puts so many things in perspective. This experience was my favorite so far.
When we safely left City Soliel we headed back to Grace Village. We did several hours of dentistry on children and staff members of Grace Village. We all have a feeling of importance at the end of a long day of dentistry. It was evident that past dental care was different from our take on dentistry. As most of us know, Dr Zollinger likes to save teeth. There were several patients very young in age that had several teeth that had been extracted due to past dentists not being able to save teeth. Today we saved teeth. We saved several teeth. We feel good. Tomorrow is another full day of dentistry. Everyone we see expresses their appreciation for the skill we have brought to their facility. This mission is changing my entire perspective. I will be returning. All of us are.