Thanks to money donated by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Riverview, through its “Operation Esperanza” medical/dental project, the Club Rotario Tomebamba of Cuenca, Ecuador is now able to carry out its own dental missions throughout the year. The funds went to purchase two portable dental units and one portable sterilizer/autoclave.  The Tomebamba already had two units in their possession, but that was not enough to carry out an effective dental program.

For approximately 18 years, Operation Esperanza has had a dental care component.  A team of dentists, dental assistants, and general helpers, led by Dr. Dan Van Berkel of Edmonton, has been providing dental care to the patients who are operated on by Operation Esperanza’s orthopedic team and to children and adults who have limited access to dental care in Cuenca and the surrounding communities.
 
Over the years, the dental arm of Operation Esperanza has grown considerably, and in recent years, dental students and professors from the University of Cuenca have taken part and have collaborated with members of the Canadian team. This collaboration is a great tool for fostering sustainability of the dental component of Operation Esperanza. The fact that there are now several portable dental units always available for use by local dental professionals further contributes to the sustainability.
 
The need for additional units was identified by Gaby Alvarado, the hardworking wife of the current Tomebamba Club president, Javier Ordoñez.  Gaby intends to organize dental projects to be carried out by local dental professionals using the dental units and sterilizer that the club now has. We look forward to hearing about these projects and will post updates whenever we can.

Here's Dr. Dan Van Berkel taking care of brave little fellow.


A classroom converted into a dental clinic.


A hygienist, a patient, and an assistant-in-training.


Children lining up for treatment.
 
Gaby Alvarado, giving a little speech at one of the schools.
 
The dental units being officially handed over to the Tomebamba club. From
left to right: Alfredo Vega (incoming club president), Javier Ordoñez (current
club president), Paul Dusseault (Riverview club Rotarian), Carlos Salazar (past
club president).