During the month of the field school we spent many days visiting the various schools in the area. This was a highlight for me as I love working with kids. It was really encouraging as the children seemed to have retained a lot of the information from presentations in previous years. The amount of decay in the children was shocking- not just the number of teeth but the extent as well. It was reassuring to hear from Ada that the rate of decay had decreased significantly since the field school began. What was most encouraging was when we went to the Montessori school and the teachers informed us that the children brushed their teeth every day after lunch. The influence of the field school was evident in all of the schools we visited in San Pancho, which was great to see.
Entre Amigos is the community centre of San Pancho. It houses a vegan restaurant, a library, computers, a recycling area, and much more. It was also the site of 5 rewarding but challenging days of dental hygiene. It was a great location as I felt like I was a part of the community there. Some challenges we faced were: no air conditioning, no dental chairs (clients sat in lawn chairs and operators used whatever we could find), no running water/sinks, and the occasional scare from the loud smash of mangos hitting the tin ceiling.
Some of the positives included the experience of working 5 full days in a row, which prepared us for private practice, the positive team dynamic, daily visits from an iguana, and of course all of the amazing clients we saw. My most memorable experience at Entre Amigos was working with a young client who presented with severe gingival disease and an infection in his partially erupted wisdom teeth. In addition he had various health issues and other challenges in his life. It was hard to feel like what we were doing for him was enough. In the end a fellow student reminded me that it is important to focus on what we did do. I will forever be appreciative for that lesson.