Keeping Perspective: Treating Children in Cambodia

Alexandra Malebranche, Resident, UCSF Division of Pediatric Dentistry, received a grant from Kids International Dental Services (KIDS) to treat children with dental needs in Cambodia. She recently returned and wrote about the experience.

We worked six long hot days out in the sun and treated over 250 children per day. In addition to treating the immediate needs and pain of the kids, we educated our patients with the help of our “kid translators.”

Our child translators were our patients one day--they live in a group home where all of the children have HIV/AIDS or have been orphaned to AIDS. The group teaches them English and prepares them to work in restaurants and at hotels. These kids came with us each day in the vans for our long car rides to each site. They made a huge impression on our group.

These kids were so happy, beaming, and lively, despite all of their hardships. They shared with us their hopes and trips to Paris or Vietnam. During the week with us, some of them travelled further away from home than they had ever been with our group!

This trip was really special--the sense of accomplishment our kid translators felt--paralleled my own. I learned so much from the kids. My daily struggles pale in comparison! It reminded me to keep perspective always.