Dr. Mike’s International Project Experience

Beginning in January 2009, my wife Karen and I were invited to develop dental hygiene training programs in the cities of Chiang Kham and Chiang Rai Thailand and in Poipet Cambodia. Making multiple trips to develop relationships and enhance their knowledge, skills and confidence, we trained high school students in dental hygiene concepts. These “dental trainers” were then tasked to provide dental hygiene training to thousands of children, adults and other health care providers in NGO’s, schools, tribal villages and orphanages. Throughout their training, we provided support and encouragement in  developing each student’s public speaking skills. These trainings were completed using either Thai, Khmer or in the native tongue of the Hill Tribe languages of Thailand.

Since we began our project, we have been extremely fortunate to have partnered with highly skilled native leaders in both Thailand and Cambodia. Utilizing their deep understanding of the customs and the needs of the local populations, we have been able to partner with these leaders so as to reach many areas of underserved rural populations.

More recently (2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020), we were invited to join the Cambodian Medical Volunteers Association and the Vice Dean and students of University Health Sciences Dental School in Phnom Penh Cambodia on their rural outreach to remote villages around Phnom Penh. It is our sincere wish that we will be able to continue to support and develop these important relationships during successive trips to Cambodia.

In 2019, Karen was asked to develop a teacher training program for the primary school teachers in Poipet Cambodia. Jeanne Haslip, a retired teacher and patient of ours for over 25 years followed up with additional teacher training in Poipet and a 2nd training site in Phnom Penh.

Throughout this process, we have been given the opportunity and responsibility to train, encourage, and develop leadership skills in countless young adults in both Cambodia and Thailand. Watching these young adults grow in their confidence and seeing their self-esteem blossom has been a tremendous joy for both Karen and myself. January 2020 will be our 17th trip to serve the people in Cambodia and North Thailand.

Dr. Mike with Karen and Rachael in 2009

Dr. Mike and Karen going into the primary school for the first time – Poipet Cambodia 2014 

Karen at MMF School teacher training Poipet Cambodia

Karen speaking KHMER with Children

1st trip to SE Asia
Karen, Mike, Sadudee and Jantanee 1st trip to MMF primary school Poipet Cambodia
Karen at MMF School in Poipet teacher training

Cambodia and Thailand

Graduation Ceremony of Dental Hygiene Trainers

Dental Trainer graduation at Home of Blessing

Dental Trainers in Action

At both Chiang Rai and Chiang Kham dental training sites, we kept dental charts on all the kids. We trained the dental trainers to write down the procedures we performed for each child that day. We did this on each and every trip we made to these two cities. In Chiang Kham there were about 100 children. In Chiang Rai there were between 60 to 70 children. The above photos were from the Chiang Rai training center. We had lots of charts to write up!

First photo is of Rugnapa with a mother and her very young child on one of our outreach trips to a Hill Tribe village. Every time we went to provide dental hygiene training to the children of a village, there were many mothers who wanted to learn how to take care of their children’s teeth. This photo shows this mother’s enthusiasm for this new learned skill (and toothbrush). Many mothers had poor dental health due to the remoteness of the village and had few resources to pay for dental care. They thanked us repeatedly. 

Channue | Cambodia dental trainer

“I hope you can highlight Channue from Poipet Cambodia. She is one of our best trainers ever. I have included a series of photos showing her “day 1” training in 2015. By the time of our 2018 trip, she became so effective that she was asked by Cambodia Hope Organization to provide dental hygiene training to the village leaders from about 30 rural villages outside of Poipet Cambodia.

There is a photo of one of the village elders demonstrating what he was taught from Channue (who is in the background of this photo). Then there is a list of names, villages and distances they traveled to the training site for this dental hygiene training. After the training session, Karen and I supplied each of the leaders with 13 bags of dental supplies for them to take back to their village so that the supplies could be used to improve the dental hygiene health of the children of their village. Truly an amazing experience to be a part of.”

Channue is one of our best dental trainers in Poipet, Cambodia. She became so effective that she was asked by Cambodia Hope Organization to provide dental hygiene training to the village leaders from about 30 rural villages outside of Poipet Cambodia.

She is one of our best trainers ever. I have included a series of photos showing her “day 1” training in 2015. By the time of our 2018 trip, she became so effective that she was asked by Cambodia Hope Organization to provide dental hygiene training to the village leaders from about 30 rural villages outside of Poipet Cambodia. 

There is a photo of one of the village elders demonstrating what he was taught from Channue (who is in the background of this photo). Then there is a list of names, villages and distances they traveled to the training site for this dental hygiene training. After the training session, Karen and I supplied each of the leaders with 13 bags of dental supplies for them to take back to their village so that the supplies could be used to improve the dental hygiene health of the children of their village. Truly an amazing experience to be a part of.

After the training by Channue – we provided 13 bags of dental hygiene supplies for the village leaders to take back to their villages. We also provided dental hygiene literature in Khmer (Cambodian language) for each village leader so that they had all the necessary supplies and resources to perform a dental hygiene training program for the children in their village. The last pdf photo shows the names of the village leader who attended Channue’s dental hygiene training session, the name of their village, the number of children in the village, and the number of kilometers each village leader had to travel on a little motorbike to the training session.  

Many hundreds of rural children who would not have received this dental hygiene training or dental hygiene supplies were helped through the training session by Channue.

Cambodia Channue Day 1
Cambodia Channue Channu
Cambodia Channue Channu
WFL village

Day 1 training for dental trainers in Poipet Cambodia

Channue – oral hygiene instructions

Channue Training Village Leaders, Poipet Cambodia

Channue coaching a Poipet leader 2018

Naowalak

Naowalak – We first met Naowalak in 2009. She became a dental trainer in 2010. She excelled at training the younger trainers and was always one of the first to assist others when they needed it. She was also a very good chairside dental assistant. Naowalak was very good at translating English to Thai and Thai to English so she was extremely helpful to Karen when Karen was doing English language lessons to the children at Home of Blessing. Because her parents are extremely poor, and could not be with her at her wedding, Naowalak asked Karen and I to be “a part of” her wedding. We were honored when she asked if Karen would officiate the wedding and asked if I would walk her down the aisle. Of course, we said “YES

Naowalak at Huay Na Gad village

Cheerawat

 

We first met Cheerawat in January 2011. We returned to begin establishing our 2nd dental hygiene training centers in Chiang Rai Thailand in July 2011. Cheerawat was ridiculously young (as were all the dental trainers at this site, another story that proved to be beyond what I could have possibly imagined. Jan 2013 we were training dental trainers from 3 different cities – Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen, and Thoeng.  I always tried to use humor to get the kids enthused about learning dental hygiene. You would think that would be hard, but you know I was always able to make it fun for every one of the kids. It was divine intervention for sure! Video of my 4 trainers in Chiang Rai after they had performed a dental hygiene training for the children of the orphanage – wanting me to know that they did a good job without me being there. I was super proud of them! One of the most heartwarming photos I have of the kids – surrounded by my team from USA and the 3 dental trainers from Chiang Rai and Chiang Saen Thailand .Jan 2020 – Cheerawat was the first person to welcome us back to Thailand – as he met Jeanne and I at the Bangkok airport. We could not have had a better reception – period!Cheerawat’s graduation from aircraft school  May 2020. One of the nicest young man we have ever met. He does not have a mother or a father. He was raised in an orphanage by Rose Martinez, an American woman who has given her life to raising young children without a home. Rose did an amazing job with Cheerawat, he is a wonderful human being that I am so very proud of.