Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Today, I woke up early and met a bunch of volunteers to go to the health clinic, salud y paz. We got on the bus, but it turned out that they were going to a cooperative glass manufacturing factory (that i had visited 2 weeks ago) So I ended up not getting to the clinic until 930. that kinda sucked, but when we got to there, 4 of us quickly took off to a nearby school to give children floride treatments.

When we arrived at the school, I looked around a bit. Though the buildings were typical ugly concrete slabs with few windows and little decoration, there was a lot going on in the classrooms. In the fifth grade, they were acting out a play and a bunch of smiling kids were wearing black pastic trash bags and jumping around. One child explained that a marimba band was coming to the school next week, so they were preparing a welcoming play. In the 3rd grade, kids were learning their multiplication facts by cutting out red apples with numbers and pasting them into their handmade tree number books. A girl happily showed me how she knew her 3s tables but matching the correct numbered apple with the correct fact in the book.

This was a far cry from the school that I visited last week where the kids, sitting at gender segregated tables, were mechanically chanting pa pe pi po pu over and over for hours. That place was far more depressing, and I{m going there on Friday to teach an english lesson and then talk with the teachers. MArtha, my teacher at school, has been preparing me to use the conditional tense so that I can make suggestions in a gentle and corteous manner.

Anyway, after touring the school on my own, I settled down in a little room with 5 dutch speaking volunteers and began recieveing children to treat. UGGG those teeth were horrible. I{ll bet that most of the children had never brushed in their lives! Deep deep cavitied and bleeding gums were normal, and I was glad to be wearing purple rubber gloves. I would ask the child to put their head on my lap. then I would dry their teeth with gauze and finally take the little yellow brush from the kit, put it into the bubblegum tasting floride treatment and paint their teeth. At the end each kid got a sticker.

Of course, after advising the kid not to eat for an hour, and not to drink hot liquid for 4 hours, the people at the school were handing out watermelon for snack. There were lots of kids jumping around with yellow stickers and a piece of watermelon rind in their hand. Seemed like a waste, but in fact most of these kids needed a real dentist and adding floride to their decayed baby teeth wouldn{t do all that much anyway. It just shows that you really need a well coordinated effort to volunteer successfully.

pĂ­ctures later.


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