“When Mark [Hare] spoke to our congregation, I started thinking I could do something to help by using my skills as a dentist,” Mariana Haughey said. “So I started asking other dentists if they had items to donate or could help.”
Haughey is a young adult who attends Royal Oak Presbyterian Church in Royal Oak, Mich. Mission co-worker Mark Hare spoke at her church in 2011 about his work in Haiti. He serves Christ by working with farmers in rural areas. He’s helping them improve their crop yields so they can feed their families and sell what’s left, giving them a livelihood.
During Hare’s presentation he asked members to think about what skills they might have that could help the people of Haiti. Haughey said she knew immediately what she could do, so she traveled to Haiti with three other members of her church in February 2012.
“I was surprised by what it was like in Haiti. It was a lot better than what I thought we’d find,” Haughey told us. “I guess I was thinking we’d see everything in total chaos, but it’s not like that at all.”
Haughey’s friend and fellow church member Leila Sears also made the trip. Sears is studying to be a dentist and offered to assist Haughey. The two young women brought suitcases filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other supplies, including several puppets.
With the help of their pastor, Tom Rice, church member Trish Sheen, and Haitian translator Jessie James, they put on a puppet show for parents, teachers, and children. They explained the basics of dental care, including how to brush your teeth and why it’s important for disease prevention as well as keeping your teeth healthy.
“So, let me see. I brush from top to bottom, back and forth, and I brush my tongue, and I brush the inside of my teeth. Is that right?” Rice asked a packed schoolroom in Hinche while kneeling behind a table and holding a puppet.
The students also learned a song that James helped them translate into French Creole, the native language of Haitians (see the video to watch portions of the puppet show and hear the song). Haughey said the mission trip was an important and life changing experience, one she hopes to repeat.
“I’d like to come back and help again and do even more,” she said. “I’d tell others that it’s important to take five minutes and think of someone else. Think how it would be for you if it were you. We all need help sometimes, and Christ wants us to help each other.”