From President Rick
On Tuesday, March 10, the Club’s speaker was Dr. Sherwin Shinn, Midday Rotary’s 2020 Star Award recipient. His message was about resilience of the human spirit, and a dedication to making a difference.
Sherwin found his calling in 1990 while trekking in Nepal when he came upon a young girl suffering from a severe infection from an abscessed tooth. Realizing that his dental training could save the girl’s life set in motion an effort to trek the girl miles through the mountains to a hospital where, using the only instrument available, his pocket knife, he would undertake extraction of the affected tooth. That was a life altering experience. He began to ask himself: What if dental disease could be prevented in places like the village where this little girl lived? What if an instrument as simple as a toothbrush could make that difference?
For the past 23 years, Sherwin has dedicated his life to providing oral healthcare to underserved people in some of the worlds most impoverished countries. This dedication was in response to his personal experience in Nepal in 1990 where he witnessed that children were dying every day from infections due to abscessed teeth. Local people had no idea what caused this condition, how to prevent it and how to treat it. Even the hospitals didn’t have access to the necessary basic treatment equipment and instruments, nor the expertise to treat emergencies and prevent ongoing problems.
In 2007, Sherwin moved to Uganda to establish the only free dental clinic in the country. This clinic is the only source of dental care for thousands of refugees who arrive in encampments with “nothing but the dirt they stand on” to support them. Mixing this dirt with water the villagers make blocks used to build primitive housing. Sherwin spoke of the determined human spirit, and unconditional love he observed in these people. Last year, Midday Rotary received a $3,500 District 5020 matching grant that enabled the Club to provide $7,000 that was used to purchase a dental chair for FWWS’s free dental clinic in Uganda.
It was in Uganda that Sherwin met and married Faria; a Ugandan with the “love and compassion for people that matched his own.” In 2008, Sherwin and Faria co-founded For World Wide Smiles. FWWS has worked to alleviate suffering from dental disease and facilitate disease prevention, education and practice, serving over 250,000 people in 16 countries. They now reside in Gig Harbor, with seven children and four grandchildren. Sherwin uses profits from his local Shinn Kids Dental practice to help support his cause.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Sherwin received his $2,000 Star Award contribution, plus an additional $1,500 allocated this year by the International Committee to FWWS. We can be assured that Sherwin and Faria will use these funds to continue their great work serving the dental needs of thousands of underserved people throughout the world.