The Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) dental hygiene program undertook its first ever medical mission trip to the Philippines in May.
The recent trip was initiated by Dr. Kristina Mendoza, a 2011 graduate of LIT’s dental hygiene program, a faculty member, and practicing dentist from the Philippines. Dr, Mendoza also launching the new dental assistant program at the southeast Texas campus in June.
LIT program director Debbie Brown, RDH, said the “unsung heroes in this story” were Dr. Mendoza and her Filipino family, who helped finance some of the trip, partnering with the Philippines Knights of Columbus and the country’s Mental Health Association’s Lipa-Batangas Chapter.
“Dr. Mendoza is originally from the Philippines and understands the great need for dental education there,” Brown said. “We went to the city where she grew up and stayed with her mother and father.”[Native Advertisement]
The group, consisting of faculty members Dr. Mendoza, Brown, Michelle DeMoss, Lisa Harrell and Lori Rogers, adjunct instructor Tami Browning, and student Ken Baxley, stayed with Dr. Mendoza’s family, who also helped finance meals. Since Dr. Mendoza’s aunt is a psychiatrist in the Philippines, she helped arrange the group’s visit to the mental health association.
The group visited three locations:
The SOS Children’s Village in Lipa City, an orphanage
The Philippine Mental Health Association’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community
The House of Our Lady Guadalupe, a home for abandoned elderly
Brown said, “I believe all the faculty and our student who went, feels as I do. Serving the Filipino people was an honor. They were so grateful for the services that we were able to provide them. We all left the Philippines with a feeling of gratitude that we were able to serve and an overwhelming feeling of humility.”
Brown said they taught the residents how to brush their teeth properly and floss, applied fluoride varnish and assisted dentists extracting teeth. She said they planned to make future mission trips, but not regularly because of the prohibitive cost and distance. LIT’s dental hygiene department received certificates of appreciation from their mission, which Brown said, they are framing and hanging in the dental clinic.