By CBF field personnel Kim Wyatt
I see so many basic needs that are out of reach for our new neighbors, refugees and immigrants in our communities in North Carolina. Out of reach because they don’t know such an opportunity exists, so they don’t ask for it. Out of reach because of the cost or the challenges with transportation. Out of reach because the resource or service is only available during their work hours, or a plethora of other reasons that those of us who live a middle-class life don’t recognize as stumbling blocks.
Here’s a story about one of those areas in great need. Below, Michelle Hays, Welcome House Raleigh Community Liaison seconded from United World Mission, shares her story:
“Last fall, Welcome House Raleigh partnered with a local cultural center, Trinity Baptist Church, and a group of amazing dentists and dental hygienists to host an all-day free dental clinic in South Raleigh. We were able to serve many people who have limited or no access to dental services. Translating for patients as they were being seen by the dentist and talking with others while they waited in line deepened my growing understanding of the fact that there are HUGE dental/medical needs among our ESL students and their families in South Raleigh. Some families are uninsured and despair of finding any affordable care at all. Other families have Medicaid but struggle to make appointments and to navigate their appointments due to the language barrier. (Translation services are promised at most of these offices but not always provided).
On one hand, the dental clinic was hugely successful because so many people who were in pain received treatment. Church volunteers provided lunch for the community and offered fun family games in the park. There was also a concert that everyone enjoyed.
On the other hand, my heart was heavy at the end of the day because the need was greater than our capacity, and we had to turn families away once the appointment slots were full. Unfortunately, some of those people were in pain, had taken the day off work to attend, and were without a clear path forward.
We are already making plans for our next clinic in a few months, brainstorming about ways to expand the services we can offer. We are exploring new church and community partnerships to help meet some of the needs we are discovering. Most of the adult patients who were seen by the dentist had either never been to a dentist at all (in their home countries or in the U.S.) or had only ever been for an extraction. So much work remains to be done!”
Might Michelle’s story suggest that by providing basic dental and medical care, the healing of the body might lead to healing of the mind and the soul too? Will you join me in looking for those places where we can help strengthen the bridge that leads to others having access to opportunities/benefits and in so doing provide a place for healing of the total person?
“And wherever he (Jesus) went-into villages, towns or countryside-they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak and all who touched it were healed.” Mark 6:56
Kim and her husband Marc Wyatt are CBF field personnel in North Carolina. To learn more about their work, click here.