Scholarship Student Saves Children's Smiles

Miriam and Her Young Dental Patient

Children with painful teeth have a new dentist to help them develop a healthy mouth. Miriam Alave Condori graduated in dentistry from UPEA, the Public University of El Alto, last December with the help of a BQEF scholarship.   (She was one of fourteen BQEF graduates last semester.)  Miriam has completed five years of university studies. This year she’ll also complete a nine-month internship in health centers.

Miriam discovered her love of children’s dentistry during her fourth year, when her studies began to include working with patients.  Miriam quickly discovered that in both the coursework and the clinic, she enjoyed pediatric dentistry the most.  Miriam has observed that working with children under twelve requires communication with and cooperation from the child.  The dentist, the child, and the parents all have to work together.  The dentist also has to give tactful recommendations to help the family prevent further problems. Miriam enjoys this relationship building aspect of the work.

Applied Learning

One of the activities Miriam found most meaningful was a class where she had to do all of the dental work on a particular child. Before beginning treatment she took the patient’s clinical history, with the help of their parent. Miriam notes it’s important to make friends with the patient, to use appropriate language with them, and to let young children use the bathroom before treatment.

Miriam started with the simplest treatment to gain the confidence of her ten-year old patient.  She took care to explain everything to the child as she worked. As her treatment with the child progressed, Miriam fully understood the value of all she had learned in her coursework.

Time to Celebrate!

After-care party puppet showAfter finishing the dental work, Miriam and her classmates celebrated with the children, including a party and a puppet show about good dental care.    Miriam said “It is a joy to share this experience with them.  Having good trust with the child leads to better treatment.”  She found this course particularly valuable, since one of her goals is to work with children in regions where dental work is especially needed. 

Open-Air Clinic Experience

Dental students in Bolivia currently hold clinics throughout the country to help the once dentally-deprived population catch up.  In her course on adult dentistry, Miriam and her classmates traveled to Coroico in South Yungas to hold a dental care and education clinic.  “…we undertook all kinds of treatments such as preventive applications, teeth cleaning, extraction, atraumatic restoration techniques (ART) and fluoridation.”

A Close-Knit Family... and Another Aspiring Dentist

Miriam appreciates the emotional and spiritual closeness of her family.  Her brother Efrain was away for several months working in Cochabamba.  When he returned, the family celebrated with an apthapi, a shared meal presented on a beautiful Andina cloth spread on the ground. The meal included potatoes, pastry, and chicken which her parents prepared for all the relatives who gathered.  Like his sister, Efrain also wants to go to the university to study dentistry. 

A special treat was visiting her grandmother Maria Condori, who lives in Achacachi in the Omasuyos province.  Miriam describes her grandmother as friendly and loving with all her grandchildren. It had been many years since Miriam visited with her because of the distance.  Her grandmother cares for animals including cows and sells milk at a transportation hub.

Miriam said they shared many things during their visit and “she told me the experiences that she had lived.  One thing was that before, people lived long because they had a healthier diet.  Now they live fewer years because they have deficiencies because of too many [refined] carbohydrates and sugars in their diet…It was a joy to be able to be with my grandmother and ask advice for my life.  This trip was a beautiful experience shared with my family.  By exchanging ideas, she helped me see the reality of life.  All things that happen are God’s plans and are Blessings.”
Miriam lives with her family in the city of El Alto, where they attend the New Jerusalem congregation, part of the Bautista Saavedra Monthly Meeting of the Santidad Friends Bolivian Evangelical Mission.  Located in the Dry River Zone of  El Alto, the congregation meets Sunday and Wednesday nights.  “It is a place where I can express, give thanks and share with the other brothers and sisters, and interact with the teachings they give us.  It is a great blessing for us.” 

The young people in Miriam’s church help with a floridation campaign for people of low income.  “This is an important activity we do to keep them from suffering cavities, pain, and inflammation in their mouths.  The people that we served thanked us and felt satisfied with the support we gave them.

It Really Does Make A Difference

Miriam wrote that she was very grateful for the scholarship.  “When I received the scholarship, it was a great joy in my life and in my family since I didn’t have enough economic support and the career I was studying required a lot of money.  Thanks to the scholarship I could get the dental instruments that I used with each patient. God was always at my side to guide me, in all the activities, exams, and treatment that I did with patients."

It’s a joyous thing to be part of supporting hard-working young Friends like Miriam who are committed to improving the lives of those around them.

With your help, together we can continue supporting Bolivian Friends' education, nurturing relationships as we go, and giving hope to young Bolivian Quakers like Miriam. 

**Your help is needed today to ensure this work continues.** Please visit our donate page now. (The link will take you to our page at Network For Good.)

And thanks for sharing in the joy of this service.