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Kenya Children Learn Dental Hygiene from Mission Team

By Analiz G. Schremmer

(NAIROBI, Kenya)—A group of Buckner orphans in Kenya learned about oral health during a seminar led by a group of short-term mission volunteers in December.

[caption id="attachment_2002" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Photo courtesy of Heather Pollard "][/caption]

Ken Stilwell, a dentist and his wife, Linda Stilwell, a dental hygienist talked to the children about the importance of caring for their teeth. The Stilwells were part of a team of individuals who came together for the trip.

The couple gave the children disclosing pills to teach them about tartar.

“Wherever the teeth stained pink, it meant they had tartar there,” said Jessica Garcia, mission trip leader.

“The caregivers said they all went to their rooms at night, chewed on their disclosing tablets and really brushed their teeth,” Garcia said. “They are all orphans and they’ve never had examples outside of their caregivers of how to do this kind of thing, and sometimes it’s hard for caregivers to give them enough one-on-one attention.

The couple also talked about germs and bacteria and how they spread.

“One of the practical examples they gave the kids was to ask one of the children to rub his hand with hand sanitizer and then they sprinkled glitter on them,” Garcia said. “The child rubbed both hands together and then shook the hand of another child. The other child that had a clean hand before, now had glitter all over. Ken and Linda explained that this is what happens when we sneeze into our hands, our germs spread and contaminate others.”

The team also spent time teaching the children Vacation Bible School, playing games and getting to know them better.

While this team ministered to orphans in Nairobi, another mission group of 16 from Concord Baptist Church in Dallas headed to Kitale, Kenya to share Christmas with Buckner children there and take them to a camp.

Garcia said that the camp, with it’s lush grass and flowers, was a stark contrast to the dirt surroundings the children see in the orphanage.

“When the kids first visited camp in 2004, they asked if it was heaven,” she said. “They get to eat buffet style every meal so as a team we serve the kids for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they are being served the whole time.”

The children had a chance to decorate stockings and take pictures with Santa. Then their stockings were filled with toys and presents.

“It was amazing to see all 70 children open their gifts, clothes and the new backpacks we handed out to them with school supplies,” she said. “Their faces were beaming.

“One little boy, Felix, had never experienced Christmas or been a part of something like that, so when he opened his gift, his smile went to his ears. I’ve never seen him so excited like that.”

Garcia said that Felix was taken from his home because his mother would leave him and his sister at home for weeks at a time, so they were starving.

“I think he hasn’t fully gotten over that yet, because when we served him food at the buffet, he would be the first one to start eating and the last one to go out and I think it was because he is still not sure if there will be food the next day. It was just great to see him having a good time and to know that he will eventually realize that we will always have meals for him.”


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