As an orthodontist, at first I was hesitant to join the KIDS volunteer team in Cambodia in February 2013. After all, I was much more comfortable straightening teeth than extracting them or placing fillings! But then Dr. Phillips (a.k.a. Mama Purobi) put me in touch with another orthodontist who is a big part of the KIDS volunteer family—Dr. Jon. He assured me that I shouldn’t let my doubts about my abilities get in the way of what could be a life-changing experience. He described the fulfillment that comes from providing much-needed treatment to the Cambodian children, who are gentle and quick to smile in spite of the poverty in which they live.
Thank heavens for the encouragement of these two angels—Jon and Purobi—who made sure I didn’t miss out on what was truly a life-changing trip for me. (And thanks to Dr. Cindy, who introduced me to KIDS in the first place.) Having traveled very little outside of the U.S., I was struck by the meager conditions under which most of the Cambodians spend their lives. I gained a new perspective for the blessings I enjoy that are afforded to me solely because of my birthplace. In spite Cambodia’s poor economic conditions, however, there is so much to love about the country—the people and the place—that I can’t wait to go back.
As for the dentistry, just like Dr. Jon had predicted, my doubts shortly faded away. Thanks to the thoughtful guidance of the senior dentists on the team, my skills quickly improved and I was able to contribute alongside the other volunteers. It was very rewarding to have the opportunity to focus only on serving children who are in desperate need of our help. I have caught the volunteer bug, and I’m counting the days until my next KIDS trip!
~ Dr. Jace, Seattle, Washington