Volunteers Care for Jamaicans in Need as Global Outreach Resumes

group photo of Jamaica volunteers

After a two-year hiatus, a group of volunteers from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry resumed the school’s tradition of global outreach trips with a visit to Jamaica during the school’s fall break in early October. A total of 38 students and nine faculty members, plus three local dentists, cared for approximately 665 children and adults of all ages during a visit to Eltham. The Eltham Community Centre had fifteen chairs running in the clinic. In addition, a smaller clinic of five chairs was arranged to serve the staff members at the Sandals Resort where the team stayed in Ochos Rios.  The visit was coordinated by Great Shape! Inc., an organization that the Dugoni School of Dentistry has worked with in previous years. Care included 403 extractions, 180 fillings (composites and amalgams), 5 anterior root canals, and 105 cleanings. Over 2000 children were instructed on oral hygiene.

Jamaica trip volunteers - a woman in a blue top with long brown hair explaining something, standing next to a man with short brown hair

Adjunct clinical instructor for the Dugoni School Dr. Eric Yabu reflected on his experience in Jamaica. “This is the type of experience that you get even more out of it than you put into it. The work was exhausting, but it was so gratifying to help the people of Jamaica get the treatment they so badly need. Being in the dental field, we are so fortunate to have a skill that allows us to directly help underserved populations. I wholeheartedly recommend a mission trip to all dentists and dental students as it makes one realize the real reason most of went into dentistry —to help people.”

Two volunteers wearing caps and masks work on a patient wearing a yellow shirt lying down in a dental chair

Dominique Winfield, DDS '23 enthusiastically reported, “This trip was unforgettable! It was such a great feeling to be able to serve people through dentistry. The smiles on the faces of the Jamaican people after receiving free dental care were lovely. I would recommend that everyone do a global mission trip like this. We were able to do so much work and learn a ton along the way. Everyone was so incredible and stepped up to the plate to help more people get the care they needed and deserved; it was beautiful to watch.”

Two masked dental volunteers working with a patient who is lying down

Kayla Hunt, DDS ’24 says, “This experience made me feel more comfortable and confident about providing dental care. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this trip my 2nd year and I think that this was an amazing experience overall. I would recommend that everyone try to attend at least one global outreach trip during their lifetime. This experience has allowed me to learn so much about dentistry, connect with others in the field, and learn about a different culture. My rotation to one of the local schools to teach primary school students about OHI was one of my favorite days. I loved interacting with the kids and seeing them brush their teeth and flossing after we visited their classrooms.”

Students and faculty are also planning a global outreach trip to Guatemala that is being scheduled for spring break.