Creating Smiles for Families in Honduras

Ololade Solaru in Los Hatillos in Honduras

Everyone deserves the right to quality health care, but for many people around the world, these rights are overlooked. This is particularly true for people in underserved communities who lack access to basic health services, systems and stability. When children and families are denied these rights, they are more likely to suffer from preventable diseases, violence and hunger, and lack education. I know there are ways we can help make a difference in their lives.  

Last year, I joined the Global Dental Brigades, an international movement of students and health care professionals who provide care for rural and under resourced communities in Honduras and Nicaragua.  During this trip to Honduras, other students and I worked alongside dentists as they provided oral care and education to the low-income community of Los Hatillos in Honduras. For seven days, the dentists provided free screenings, fillings and cleanings, and pulled teeth when necessary. Many of the patients had never visited a dentist due to limited access in their communities.

When we arrived at the village’s community center every morning, there was a long line of people ready to receive treatment. The intense heat did not stop them from standing outside. Many people came in feeling pain in their mouths, but left with a smile on their face. Seeing the satisfaction on each person’s face after they received treatment was an amazing feeling.  These moments made me wonder: If these treatments and services did not exist, would the people just live in pain?

One of the things I appreciated most on this trip was my time with the children. We taught them the importance of oral health through songs, games and hands on activities. The songs we sang to them in Spanish taught them how many times a day to brush their teeth, the proper motions of the toothbrush, and areas of the mouth that are important to brush. Sometimes I would overhear some kids singing the songs we taught them while they walked past me! The children were also very excited when we gave each of them their own toothbrushes. Witnessing this moment made me smile, but it also made me realize that I sometimes take things for granted, such as access to health care.

It’s essential to provide all communities with the resources needed for survival. I witnessed firsthand how simple interventions can improve a community’s overall well-being. Not only did this experience show me the inequality of proper health services, but it helped me appreciate the work that Save the Children is doing around the world to help with children’s health and education. I now better understand that a lack of education and health care can escalate into bigger issues that could potentially lead to conflict. As I learned from my time in Honduras, intervention is important if we truly want to address the needs of vulnerable communities.

Take action today to help kids around the world survive and thrive!

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Ololade Solaru is a Spring Intern at Save the Children Action Network. She is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park and intends to graduate this May 2019. Upon graduating, Ololade hopes to further her career in Public Health and obtain her MPH in global health.