Our 27 member team has been traveling from Portland, Oregon to Santa Catarina Mita, Guatemala for almost a decade, collaborating with members of the community to provide long-term preventive dental care.
Why Santa Catarina Mita?
After witnessing the devastating effects of extensive dental decay during her volunteer missions with Medical Teams International, Betty Buford approached her acquaintance, Emiliano Ibarra, with her desire to found a volunteer dental team that focused on preventive care to work in Latin America. Emiliano's wife, Ruby, was born and raised in Santa Catarina Mita and knew that most children in the village lacked access to dental care. Emiliano contacted Dr. Oscar Garcia, a dentist from Guatemala City who grew up in Santa Catarina Mita and volunteered his time at the Rotary International Clinic there (now closed). Dr. Garcia helped establish our week of dental work with the children and volunteered with us for several years. These personal connections in Santa Catarina Mita have helped us build lasting relationships with local families, schools, and the health department. Today, Dr. Luis Gonzalez is our in-country dentist, and volunteers for a full week every year with Nuevas Sonrisas.
We also have strong support and collaboration with the Mayor of Santa Catarina Mita, who provides us with 5 full time staff members from the local health department every year. Nuevas Sonrisas board members work year round organizing, fundraising, gathering donations, and communicating with the local schools and representatives in Santa Catarina Mita. Our team is extremely well-prepared and efficient thanks to our strong leadership.
Charlotte Finn, MSW
Registered Engineer CET
Dr. David Streiff