Dr. Ken Peavy’s reason for a recent mission trip is simple — a child holding his gloved finger for comfort as anesthetic is pushed into her gums. It was the compassion felt as he looks into the eyes of a Brazilian mother pleading for him to pull the other teeth with cavities because a dentist won’t be there the next day.
The Winston-Salem orthodontist, a member of the Giving Hand Foundation, spoke at the Mount Airy Rotary Club’s regular luncheon Tuesday afternoon at Cross Creek Country Club. New officers for next year were also sworn in by Rotarian Joan Inman. Van Lankford will take the reins as president next year with Cathy Stevens serving as secretary and Lenise Lynch as treasurer. Outgoing President Jim Petelle was recognized with a plaque honoring his service.
Inman noted Rotary’s core value was “service above self” and said members and their businesses both benefit from the friendships developed through membership in the group. Peavy said Dr. Michael Tumbarello and members of his family also accompanied him on the trip to serve remote villages along the Amazon River.
He said the foundation was founded 10 years ago to provide dental service missions locally and internationally and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Peavy said the group also holds free dental clinics locally with as many as 70 patients treated in one day.
“I believe one answer to the question of why go to far away places and help is because Jesus said take this ship to the end of the world,” Peavy said.
Peavy said children treated in the area most commonly have all of their front teeth so badly damaged by cavities they have to be removed. He said on one occasion the team used so much tooth filling material they sent a volunteer in a jon boat down river to get more of the filling composite.
“In a lot of the places we went to, there were many who had never been out of their village because it was so rough,” Peavy said, adding they worked in austere conditions with patients on small chairs, only local anesthetic, no suction tools and lights worn on their heads.
He also explained the medical team attended church services at night and slept in hammocks on the boat that took them up river.
Peavy said the team suffered in the intense heat even though they traveled to Brazil during the rainy season when it is considered winter in that region. He told Rotarians patients shared a lot with their counterparts stateside with mothers’ bringing the kids in for treatment. He noted how cooperation both here and in Brazil was critical for the mission trip to take place successfully and described how the Amazon River becomes a 300 mile wide body of water in places after the rainy season.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@Mt.AiryNewsDave.