“I felt so bad. There was so much pain, and I didn’t smile. I always avoided hot and cold things.”
These are the words of Vera, a 23 year old patient at the Hope Smiles clinic in Uganda. We want you to know how your support has helped transform her life over the past few months.
“Before I used not to smile because I really feared people asking, ‘What happened to your mouth?’ It’s something that really tormented me.”
Vera first visited our clinic in Jinja, Uganda in October, and it was easy to see why she felt tormented. Her upper front teeth had massive holes and were black. Most of her back teeth had large holes as well. Small pieces of tooth were embedded in the gums, which had swollen over the small pieces. It was a mess.
At her first appointment, I noticed Vera was very quiet, always looking towards the ground when answering a question.
Our team was able to immediately relieve Vera’s pain — and she came to her second appointment visibly more relaxed. She still looked at the ground when responding to questions, but there was a noticeable change: she made eye contact before looking down. That wasn’t the case the first time we spoke with Vera.
Vera also was learning why her teeth developed so many problems. She learned how her diet was destroying her mouth, making the connection between her dietary and hygiene habits with the condition of her teeth.
She told us this was something she did not expect.
“Other clinics, medical or dental, do not give oral education. I’ve been to another dental clinic and they didn’t tell me anything. They just removed my tooth and it was terrible. At Hope Smiles there is a way they handle you with care. The whole team is friendly, unlike other doctors I have seen.”
The highlight of our treatment with Vera was definitely the day we restored her front teeth. She couldn’t stop looking in the mirror!
“I can now smile and I’ve learned how to prevent my teeth from getting damaged again. I now even floss! Me! I didn’t know I was supposed to do that. I’m really happy!”
Transformation is always our goal, and Vera has been an absolute pleasure to serve and guide towards sustained, life-long transformation. At her first appointment it was hard to get her to say anything. Now at each of her appointments, Vera immediately tells us how things are different for her.
Vera had been volunteering with a local health and education charity for a few months before receiving treatment at Hope Smiles. She told us she likes volunteering because she gets to help women in the Mayuge village start their own businesses. She started by entering data. But with her new smile, things are different.
“The big difference is I’m more confident than before. I used to not talk, but now I like talking and chatting with different people at work. Before I volunteered by doing data entry. Now I have the confidence to go out into the village and help people.”
“I didn’t think it was possible for me to smile like this again. If someone had seen me before, they wouldn’t recognize me now because I’m like a new person. One of my friends even told me, ‘I don’t remember seeing you smile before.’ He was surprised!”
I asked her what she would like to say to the people who make Hope Smiles possible: our supporters around the world:
“I would like to thank them. This clinic is different. Most people need this but they don’t know it’s possible. I pray that God awards them abundantly and more people in different places can know about Hope Smiles.”