Making a difference, one smile at a time

The more than 8,000 registered dentists in Africa serve a population of approximately 1.2 billion people. That’s a dentist to person ratio of 1:150,000. This statistic shows how difficult it is for people on this continent to get dental care. Most of the people in these areas yearn for good dental health, sanitation, and betterment of life; however, due to poverty and various other challenges, these necessities seem unattainable.

A group of dental practitioners saw the immense need for dental care in these places and came up with a program to help change and improve lives, which became International Caring Hands. Meriam Fajutagana joined them; She is a dentist who grew up in the Philippines and has dedicated her life to the mission of bringing smiles to people’s faces through proper dental care.

Meriam’s life journey as a missionary began in high school. From an early age, she dreamed of becoming an accountant. Her passion for mathematics was what made her so interested in the profession, and she believed that accounting would be the best fit for her.

During her high school years, she became involved in a variety of ministries at school, which led her to a deeper relationship with Christ. Meriam was reading the Bible and sincerely praying for God to lead her, and it was during this time that she understood God’s message for her. She learned that medical missionary work is the right hand of the gospel, and through God’s healing, people will learn how mighty and mighty our Savior is. This encouraged Meriam to become a missionary.

“I know taking a medical course is quite expensive, but my decision to become a dentist has encouraged me to do more for him and reach more people in the medical field,” she says.

Despite financial difficulties, Meriam decided to pursue her career in dentistry and was eventually able to obtain her license to practice.

Meriam received her dental degree from the Adventist University of the Philippines. Her passion for learning dentistry, coupled with her love for mission, was reinforced and amplified in college.

Today, Meriam is part of a team that reaches out to African families seeking health care services as a missionary dentist for International Caring Hands. The team travels to various locations to reach people in need of medical assistance and encourage others to get involved in bringing the good news all over the world.

With hundreds of families living in places where there is no electricity or in remote areas where it takes families days to walk to reach cities, Meriam and other missionary dentists are bringing the dental clinic to support them and introduce the ultimate source of happiness, Jesus.

“We have dental trucks here carrying all of our basic equipment to serve people who need dental care. These trucks can power our x-ray machines and all of our dental equipment. It’s just a blessing to see these people have the opportunity to receive dental services that they haven’t even experienced in their entire lives,” says Meriam.

“To see them smile and introduce them to Jesus is just an experience that no amount of money can buy,” she said.

The original version of this story was published on the South Asia Pacific Division news sites.

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