BETHLEHEM: Orphans Receive Dental Health Services Thanks to Former Salesian Student
(MissionNewswire) Since 2006, Dr. Mauro Giacomi, a dentist and former Salesian student, has been providing free dental work for poor Palestinian youth in Bethlehem. The initiative has been set up and supported by various Christian groups.
Inspired by the education he received at a Salesian-run school, Dr. Giacomi is donating his dental expertise, along with 11 other Italian volunteer dentists, to the Dental Clinic at “La Crèche” run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. These dentists work during their vacation time while funding the trip to and from the clinic in Bethlehem themselves.
“There is an enormous inner satisfaction which is hard to describe when looking after these young Palestinians,” explains Dr. Giacomi. “Often they don’t understand us; not even in English but they smile and thank us. They say it endlessly, invite you home, and in the most miserable of poor homes tell you this is your home too.”
The offering of free dental care has come about through a partnership between three groups. The dental office was built by the Sisters of Charity at La Crèche, the dental equipment was donated by UNITALSI (The National Italian Union for Transporting the Sick to Lourdes and International Sanctuaries), and the volunteer dentists were recruited from all over Italy under the leadership of Dr. Giacomi.
“There are currently some 1,700 patients who benefit annually,” says Dr. Giacomi. “It is quite a financial outlay for us volunteers but we manage brilliantly.”
According to the World Bank, poverty in this region varies by district and ranges from three to 55 percent of the local population. Poverty is highest in the Gaza districts and lowest in Jerusalem. Half of the Palestinian poor live in three districts – Khan Yunis, Gaza City, and Hebron. Three of the top five poorest localities are in the West Bank and all are from different districts – Al Jiftlik, Yatta, and Ya’bad, with poverty incidence rates ranging between 40 and 51 percent of the local population.
The Dental Clinic at “La Crèche” is housed in the Vincentian complex in Bethlehem and follows the best practices in dentistry standards. The complex also includes an orphanage that houses 55 children ages six and younger as well as a school with 120 day students. In addition there is a social center for the unemployed and a Pilgrim Hostel. Next to the complex is the only hospital in Palestine that offers free services. The hospital is an ultramodern building that provides obstetrics and gynecology services as well as a neo-natal unit that oversees around 300 births a month.
“The children at La Crèche are not just poor, but have never known a mother or a father. For them any man or woman who comes here could be a father or a mother,” concludes Dr. Giacomi.
World Bank – Poverty in West Bank