Perhaps not many who are privileged stop to think about how difficult making a routine visit to a general practitioner or even a dentist can be, especially if you’re someone who can only depend on the state for these services.
Wards of the state are among those for whom just seeing a dentist can sometimes mean hours, days, or as much as weeks of waiting to see a professional in the public healthcare system.
“When you use the clinic they will tell you I can only take five girls at a time,” explained assistant manager at the Homestead Place of Safety for Girls in Stony Hill, St Andrew, Renea Irving. “And you can only come on a Monday or a Tuesday. So they give you one day per week, and sometimes when you go and there are emergencies there you can’t be seen,” she continued.
This need formed part of the basis for the intervention of the Women’s Ministries Department at the Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church, which recently, with the assistance of the Three Angels Pharmacy Mobile Clinic brought dental services to the approximately 70, mainly, teenage girls who had their teeth examined and cleaned by professionals.
“Beautiful,” was how Irving described the church’s initiative.
“That is very beautiful because at least everybody is seen and they get their need filled. I was really pleased and appreciative of that service on that day.”
Beyond having their dental needs taken care of, the young ladies also received hygiene packages from the church and Three Angels Pharmacy, the operators of the Mobile Clinic.
“Rather than just providing them with toothpaste and toothbrushes, we decided to clean their teeth and examine them and it was a blessing because the team identified some of the girls who really needed dental work and referrals were made,” said Rohan McNellie, principal of Three Angels Pharmacy, who was also on hand to lend support to his team in the mobile clinic.
His team was supported by reigning Festival Queen Dr Dominique Reid of Manchester, a dentist, who was on hand to examine the young ladies. The voluntary team was also supported by Loriah’s Restaurant in Half-Way Tree, which provided refreshments.
“I’m so happy that we were given the opportunity to serve in the capacity we did,” he said.
For the Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Women’s Ministries Department the effort was but another endeavor to deepen its relationship with the young women whom they have been supporting for the past two years. Their work with the young ladies over the period has been focused on building their self-confidence and sense of worth.
“We want them to see themselves as being worthy, as being unique, as well as being beautiful, special and successful in life,” said Masie Wint, coordinator of the project.
They have also introduced the young ladies to the church’s GEMS (Girls of Eloquence and Moral Standards) programme.
“Our mission is to affect the whole development of these young ladies. We want them to feel empowered. We want them to feel loved,” Wint said. “We want to get to their spiritual side as well, but we want them to know first that they are loved despite whatever has happened to them.”
And with each effort, their relationship with the young ladies has deepened.
“Each time we go, there is at least one girl who wants to just talk and tell her story, and we don’t ask them, because we are not there to probe, but they will come and say ‘Miss, can I talk to you?’ And we give them the attention because they just need a listening ear,” she explained.
The church’s latest initiative was well-received by the young ladies of Homestead, said Irving.
“They were even asking when they [are] coming back,” she said.