Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Have you ever been to a blessing of a medical/dental clinic? Me neither. But I'm planning to do so on Tuesday 5th December and cross that one off my bucket list! If you'd like to come along then catch the bus to Boca de Tomatlan, about 40 minutes south of PV, and join the locals who will be at the new Dental Amistad for the blessing that will take place at noon, Mexican time. Opening ceremonies will take place from 12:30 to 1:00, there will be an open house for a couple of hours and then local dancers and other entertainment will start around 3:30 pm.
This is a big deal for the villagers of Boca De Tomatlán and the surrounding coastal villages of Las Animas, Quimixto, Yelapa, Pizota, Mismaloya and Las Juntas/Los Veranos because, until now, they have had to take the bus into Puerto Vallarta for dental check-ups (they didn't) and to fix that mother of all pains, the toothache.
About five years ago Christina Martell, a long-term resident of Boca De Tomatlán, decided that the children of that village should have regular dental check-ups and treatment available to them. She found a dentist in Puerto Vallarta, Gerardo Mijares Valles, who would provide free services to as many kids as Christina could bring into town on a Thursday afternoon.
Christina put the word out in Boca and, soon, she was transporting ten or a dozen kids in a vehicle designed for six, to the dentist for free check-ups and treatment followed by supper of pizza. The group was usually back in Boca before nightfall and then many of the kids had to make their way back to their coastal homes by the family's boat or had to trudge back along jungle paths to their village.
The International Friendship Club (IFC) has been supporting the student dental outreach program in PV for the last five years with a monthly donation of 2,500 pesos per month and it was such a popular service for parents and the kids that the idea for a medical/dental clinic in Boca was hatched.
All dental clinics need some pretty sophisticated and expensive equipment including a dental chair, lights, attachments, dental compressor, autoclave and x-ray machine. Christina tallied up the costs of this equipment and asked the IFC to fund the purchases, which they did. Some of the profits from the IFC Home Tours were used for this purpose.
Dental Amistad will be staffed with volunteer dentists from Puerto Vallarta, supervised by Dr. Francisco Rodrigues, who operates RODGUARD Dental Boutique in Puerto Vallarta, and has generously volunteered to oversee this new community dental effort. All dentists in Puerto Vallarta are being asked to consider donating four hours per month in community service to this important rural effort. What a win-win situation!
Donations of dental supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste are needed by Dental Amistad to support its community dental outreach efforts in the remote pueblos of Cabo Corrientes. If you would like to donate these supplies, please purchase them and drop them off at the IFC offices located upstairs, above HSBC bank in el Centro at the corner of Insurgentes and Libertad. The office is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm.
The major program of the International Friendship Club is its Cleft Palate Program that provides free examination, assessment, surgery and ongoing care to the babies born with cleft palate or cleft lips in and around Puerto Vallarta. It has been doing this since 1986 by running the famous and popular IFC Home Tours.
Over the last thirty years the club has grown to over 600 members, about 100 of which volunteer their time to run the Home Tours, liaise with the charities the club supports, deliver lectures, teach bridge and attend Spanish courses and social events. All of the profits are used to support the dental outreach program, the cleft palate program and about 20 other charities in this area. For more information, visit www.ifcvallarta.com.The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta A.C. It is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, 48300. Phone: 322-222-5466. Website: ifcvallarta.com Email: ifcvallarta(at)gmail.com