Monday, 16 July 2012

Krousar Thmey Centres for Deaf and Blind Children

Children the world over are gorgeous - and none more so than the deaf and blind children of Krousar Thmey. There are 16 Krousar Thmey Centers throughout Cambodia. The One-2-One / CamKids mobile dental team visits these underserved centres to provide much needed dental treatment to the children, most of whom have never seen a dentist. For some, even brushing their teeth is a new experience.

On our most recent visit to the Krousar Thmey School in Battambang Province, our team was most warmly welcomed by the staff and children. Shyness soon gave way to curiosity and excited chatter as they flashed huge smiles, crowded around, and were eager to help in what ever way they could.

Over the course of 5 days, the dental team, composed of overseas dental volunteers and local dental professionals, checked many and treated 196 Krousar Thmey children, completing over 300 fillings and pulling out over 100 rotten painful teeth! They also placed many fissure sealants and fluoride varnish, to help protect the teeth against further decay. Although the conditions were challenging, with temperatures well over 30 degrees, with so many children needing help, our team stepped up to the task, without complaint. The children were fantastic - sometimes waiting a long time for treatment, and very brave in the face of having several teeth treated at a single visit. Our team kept the children happy with big smiles and small rewards at the end - receiving a new toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste in Cambodia is a big deal! The children were hugely grateful to our team, and most were happy to come back for a second and even a third visit.

It is not easy being a blind or a deaf child in Cambodia. Many are abandoned by their parents. The volunteers were constantly blown away by the children's courage, their resilience, and their gratefulness for the simple things most people in the western world take completely for granted. Despite some of the difficulties in communicating (how do you prepare someone who can't see or hear for an injection?), every day the children won the hearts of the volunteers through their acceptance, friendliness and courage. They even helped our volunteers learn some sign language and songs. Teaching children how to brush their teeth with their very first toothbrush was a rewarding experience - broad foamy smiles on their faces, laughter from their friends at their efforts, and seeing the obvious pride and gratefulness they all had at being given their very first toothbrush.

The deaf and blind children of Krousar Thmey School in Battambang City did not have any material things that they could give the dental team to thank them for their help, but they gave what they could, by putting on a special "Thank you" concert. Those who could sing, sang; those who could perform magic tricks wowed the audience with their magical prowess; and those with acrobatic skills said thanks by performing acrobatic tricks - leaving the dental team feeling like, in the end, they were the ones who had the most to be thankful for.

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