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Don't Trust Your Instincts

I-DENT dental extraction training is intense, and sometimes the training isn't a fit for a student. We learned quickly not to trust our instincts on a recent trip to Haiti...

The ITEC team recently returned from Jacmel, Haiti where we conducted I-FILM, I-MED, and I-DENT. The I-DENT team taught a group of seven Haitians how to do simple dental extractions. By the end of the week, five students were certified to do extractions and two were certified as assistants.

On Monday morning we gathered everybody into the sanctuary to kick-off the week. We divided the students into their different training groups. As I began to survey the I-DENT students, a young man named Giby caught my eye. I admit, my first thought was, "He looks like he's just here to have a good time. There is no way he is going to take this training seriously."

As you can probably imagine, the dental extraction training is very intense. There is so much to learn in one week, and missing any portion of the training usually disqualifies a student from certification. In fact, the training is so difficult that sometimes students drop out during the week. And sometimes we have to make the difficult decision to certify a student only as a sterilization assistant or even ask a student to leave the training when it is clearly not a good fit for them. I thought that Giby was going to be one of those students.

It didn't take long for me to feel my concerns were justified. After only a few hours in the classroom, Giby left the training to attend to an emergency and did not come back in the afternoon. He had promised to return early the next morning to get caught up on what he missed, but I was skeptical. I figured that was the last we would see of him.

An Eager Learner

Much to my surprise, Giby showed up at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning with his student manual in hand, ready to learn. Our two dentists took the time to get him caught up with the rest of the class. He attentively listened and participated in the remainder of the classroom portion of the training, and on Tuesday afternoon the students began to see their first patients.

young dental trainee works on patient in HaitiBy Tuesday evening one of our dentists said to me, "I think Giby is going to be really good. He has great hand skills." Giby was very careful to do everything as gently and precisely as possible, and his concern for his patients was obvious.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the students treated patients with our two dentists teaching and supervising. After working on a patient on Thursday afternoon, Giby approached the sterilization table with big eyes and an even bigger smile that I could see stretching beyond his face mask. He set his tray of instruments down with a sigh of relief and proudly said, "Big job!" He had just successfully extracted 6 teeth from an older gentleman who lives in a mountain village.

Helping His Mom and Graduation

The highlight of Giby's week came on Friday when his mother arrived at the clinic to have a tooth extracted (Pictured Above). He was overjoyed to be able to help his own mom!

It is such a privilege to watch the students blossom over the course of the week. Giby grew by leaps and bounds in his confidence and competence each day, and we are so thankful that we gave him a second chance when he returned on that Tuesday morning.

Please join us in praying for Giby and the other students in Haiti, asking the Lord to give them opportunities to use their new skills to proclaim His name.

dental trainee graduates in Haiti

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