Eye-Opening Experience

Posted in: Trips

By Ciara Thornhill

This is the journal entry from Dr. Roach’s cousin, who was able to make the second trip with him about a year ago.


April 20, 2015 | I never imagined Guatemala to be my first trip out of the country.  I figured I would go to Ireland—experiencing it with my sisters and parents, having my first Guinness, traveling around a bit. Nope. I ended up in Guatemala and had a different experience than I had envisioned.

When we first arrived in Nahuala yesterday, there was garbage all over the street. Bart told me that it was because they had just finished their Sunday market and they put all of the garbage in a pile and it will get picked up. Anyway, probably twenty stray dogs were all over that pile of garbage…little did I know that these would be the same dogs that would bark all night as I try to get some sleep.  Today, we worked in the clinic. This was also not what I had expected at all. I am so used to working in a dental office with all of my supplies nearby, sterilized, and functioning well. But here, we are using donated tools and we have no access to radiographs, so Bart cannot pinpoint exact problems. He just wants to alleviate the pain and prevent future problems. It is only my first day, and I have seen a lot more inexperience and lack of knowledge for dental hygiene than I have ever seen working at the dental office. I am forever thankful that Bart brought me along on this.

While I was on the plane the other day, I was reading this book about Saint Pope John Paul II, and there was this quote in it, “The more ready you are to give yourselves to God and to others, the more you will discover the authentic meaning of life.” I think Bart is really living that. The work he does is exhausting, physically and mentally, but he still wakes up and wants to do this work in his free time, he talks about dentistry quite often, and for him, it’s not only work, it’s his calling. So yeah, this isn’t really what I had expected my first trip abroad to be, but I am so glad I am here.

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