Dr. Ivan Hucal, orthodontist and co-owner of Hucal & Edwards Orthodontics and Melanie Bott, registered dental assistant, headed to Ethiopia Feb. 16th to provide dental services to those in need.
“For ourselves, this is our first expedition. We’re joining a group of physicians and dentists. There is going to be a total of two dentists in the group, three dental assistants and one dental hygienist from our team,” said Hucal.
They will be gone for a total of two weeks, joining a group called Canadian Humanitarian, a registered non-profit charity that provides humanitarian relief to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Ethiopia.
“The purpose of our program is to look after the children that are registered within the Canadian Humanitarian Program. We’re expected to see somewhere in the neighbourhood of 500 children over the couple weeks that we’re there,” said Hucal.
He added that they will be providing very basic dental services and dental hygiene services to the children while there.
He and Bott have raised $10,000 on their own to cover costs of travel, medical and dental supplies, and will be bringing all of their supplies overseas.
The weight of their baggage is around 1,200 lbs.
Friends, family, colleagues and the community also helped contribute.
“We did a big, in-office fundraiser where we had a jelly bean raffle where patients could guess how many jelly beans there were to raise money, and we had a substantial number of patients offer larger amounts,” said Bott.
“So far through patient donations through the office, we’ve raised enough money to purchase four goats when we get there,” she said, adding that they will be used to provide the children with meat in their meals.
The money also went towards purchasing 100 flashlights for children to use at night, 175 Hot Wheels cars, 200 bouncy balls and countless hair ties and bracelets for the girls.
In addition to providing dental care for these children, they will also be doing home visits where they actually get to go and see the sponsored children’s homes to assess their living conditions, their stability, their safety and to ensure that everything is stable both in their homes and school lives.
“It’s a little bit of a humanitarian effort beyond just doing dentistry,” said Hucal.
He added that many people have been exposed to humanitarian causes where they sponsor a child overseas, but may never get to meet them face to face.
“This program’s pretty unique in that the girl that I sponsored when I joined this program sent me a postcard and her picture, and I’m going to be fortunate enough to meet this person when we’re over there, and to see firsthand what our money can actually do over there,” he said.
The girl he sponsored is 11-years-old, and is only in Grade 1, the reason for that being that she spent 10 years on the streets.
Now that she’s sponsored, she’s able to go to school and hopes to be a doctor.
“And the chances of that happening are very likely with sponsorship. It’s quite phenomenal,” said Hucal.
Those interested in making a donation to the program can visit www.canadianhumanitarian,com.