– Stacey Haberberger
Happy New Year 2018 from Healthy Smiles Global
2017 was a short but busy trip in Madagascar for Healthy Smiles. We joined up with a nonprofit group in Madagascar called Compassion Madagascar and they are wonderful!
Dr. Elodie Sunshine is fantastic and is bringing healthcare to the more sick and underprivileged children of the country. We were invited to attend several openings of Kangaroo Rooms, promoting skin to skin contact between mom and preemie babies in hopes of social bonding and providing warmth to a preemie. It is a practice already being done in the United States and elsewhere, but Dr. Elodie has big visions for her children. She has a group of approximately 40 volunteers including various doctors, who help provide medical care to the child and as well as to the family. They provide love and support and outreaches in other areas. Compassion Madagascar also provides schooling for approximately 30-40 children, and this year healthy smiles donated basic school supplies and backpacks to the school children.
Healthy Smiles Volunteers had the opportunity to visit several local hospitals and visit the children and their families. Donations of toys and dolls were given to the children, with the hopes that even a child sick and confined to a hospital bed can be a happy child, if even briefly.
We also travelled back to Bakaro and visited several schools in the area. Healthy Smiles joined with local Peace Corps volunteers to educate both children and adults this year in basic dental education and hygiene. Our hope is to include more adult programs in the future in the villages and in turn, the adults can teach the children. Local children also had their first birthday party! We held a joint birthday / nonprofit birthday party for the local kids club, complete with cake and juice and each child was able to pick a stuffed animal. Balloons and fun was held by all. A big project for the upcoming year is to collect donations to build a playground for the local kids.
Healthy Smiles returned to visit Le Bon Paddy School, as they have recently moved to a new location for the children. In 2016-2017, Healthy Smiles donated 50 sets of basic school supplies for the children in need. And in 2017, a monetary donation was made to the school for further basic needs. Soccer balls and candy were distributed to the classes as well as social interaction. And I got a new hairdo, compliments of the children and a power outage.
Healthy Smiles also did a project with about 140 street children through Teach for Madagascar. This was a joint program in 2015-2016 with the help of local American Embassy Contacts and a new community center was built in Anjezika for the children and various organizations. Our hope is to do a big project in 2018 at the community center as this will be the last year the current embassy contacts are in Madagascar, they will be moving on to Burundi in 2019.
Though this year was a small dental education trip, many new contacts and friendships were formed. Happy and Sad times were had by all and sadly, a funeral for one of our children in the hospital was attended to. Our goal is to become bigger and reach more children and adults in various way, in future trips.
HEALTHY SMILES START WITH YOU!