Creating smiles in Guatemala

Marla Grossman and Shannon Cassidy, have embarked on a volunteer expedition to provide oral care in Guatemala.

Salmon Arm denturists Shannon Cassidy and Marla Grossman are taking part in a volunteer expedition which will provide oral care to people in Guatemala.

Salmon Arm denturists Shannon Cassidy and Marla Grossman are taking part in a volunteer expedition which will provide oral care to people in Guatemala.

It isn’t just a trip; it’s the experience of a lifetime.

Local denturist, Marla Grossman, of Marla Beblow Denturist Ltd. and assistant, Shannon Cassidy, have embarked on a volunteer expedition to provide oral care in Guatemala.

Travelling with Alberta’s non-partisan organization Kindness in Action, Grossman and Cassidy will spend a week in Jalapa, Guatemala, performing examinations, extractions, restorations, cleanings and fabricating dentures.

“I can’t get there fast enough,” said Grossman last Friday, admitting she was a little impatient to fly out the following day. “I travel every year anyway and I wanted it to have a bit more of a purpose.”

This is Grossman and Cassidy’s first volunteer trip and the pair will work with 24 other denturists, assistants and hygienists from around Canada and the U.S.

“I am really looking forward to the experience,” adds Cassidy, who with Grossman will tend to approximately 500 people during the week, with an added focus on prevention, dispensing toothbrushes and individual and school hygiene instruction.

When asked what she is most excited about, Grossman responds that it will be “helping and meeting people.

“Jalapa is the base camp so we will be travelling by truck out to the surrounding villages to do our work. There is a huge demand; a lot of villages simply don’t have the money to travel or to get any work done. We just want to help as many people as we can.”

Grossman said they will be starting the denture process in Guatemala, taking impressions and measurements, then, once they return, the dentures will be created and shipped back to Guatemala.

“The number-one challenge is the language barrier,” said Grossman, noting there will be interpreters to assist during the week. “There will be no running water or generators for power, so we will be very limited. You bring what you think you need and deal with it because there is no other way. You may be working in a barn or a school; there is no clinic to work out of.”

Grossman and Cassidy say travelling with Kindness in Action will be a humbling experience.

“You appreciate what you have more helping others,” said Grossman, who has taken with her, locally donated eye drops and books. “We hope this is the first of many travels.”

For more information on Kindness in Action, visit www.kindnessinaction.ca.