The Taylors  Fifth "Dental" Trip to Guatemala! Matt Taylor speaks to the St. Catharines South club on the Taylor's eigth trip abroad to provide dental services to communities in need. This was their fifth to Guatemala but they have been to Kenya three times and Mexico once.

Matt was "introduced" to his club today by President Greg MacDonald who met Matt while he (Greg!) was a student at Brock University and in need of some dental assistance.


    Matt began by telling us a little about the people of Guatemala. They have a large indigenous population, are Spanish speaking, very friendly and a very hard working people. They suffer from illiteracy, have an extremely high birth rate and are exploited by plantation owners. They are not starving as food seems to be in abundance and are very family oriented.  He then began showing us many of the pictures taken in his last trip. The first was of Georgette standing with some of the men who helped them in their work. Matt was careful as he pointed out the height of those pictured and how Georgette actually stood out in the crowd! [ ed note: Visit the homepage "Photo Journals" on right side titled -Taylor Guatemala Dental Trip 2008 - for pictures of their trip].


   As Matt progressed through the slides he related the problems in Guatemala to the illiteracy situation that Lataetia de Wit, our Director of International Projects, so often talks about and campaigns for. Matt insists that education and improved literacy are all that stands between these great people and the progress they deserve. Solving the problem of the high birth rate and the vicious circle it creates is the key. Georgette can get very animated when she speaks on this subject also!


   Some of the pictures of the dental hygiene were tough to look at but Matt said that the conditions were improving as he is doing fewer extractions than in earlier visits. We saw several photos of equipment donated by Rotary International and some by our own club. Matt made special efforts to thank the club and it was obvious as to how important these donations are to the success of the program. The four wheel drive truck, generators and a host of dental equipment were well explained. Travel in the mountains in a very wet climate looks to be a challenge!


    Water is abundant and sourced from fast moving mountain streams supplied almost daily by steady rainfall but does have some issues as it is not treated. Matt and Georgette bring their own bottled water. Housing is certainly primitive by our standards with thatched roofs and dirt floors. Indoor cooking over fire with smoke exiting directly through the roof is common.


   We were shown many pictures of the animal life and forest environment as the Taylor's have had some opportunity for "sightseeing". One photo showed matt on a three kilometer cable ride through the rainforest. Matt claims to be one of the older riders!


   Upon questioning, matt said that their plans include another trip back to Guatemala but in between they hope to visit Asia or South America, perhaps India or Brazil, as a visiting Rotarian Dentist. Africa is no longer on their list as it is becoming too dangerous and they also want to go where there is a feeling of being wanted and appreciated. I think that those are are fair sentiments from people who have so freely given of their time!


   Brian Radford was proud to be able to thank his longtime friend for both a very well delivered presentation but more importantly for doing what he does under the name of our club.