May 20, 2021

Dental Graduates Provide Care to Venezuelan Immigrants in Brazil

Ana Clara Silveira, South American Division, and Adventist Review

A group of dental students and graduates from Bahia Adventist College on the eastern coast of Brazil has been serving people in need, including immigrants from Venezuela with no access to dental care. Their outreach and service activities are a core part of their training, regional school and church leaders said.

One of the recent graduates, Bianca Carvalho, said she believes her mission endeavors are rooted in God’s plan for her. “My goal is to help those in need with my expertise, improve my talents, and tell others about the soon coming of Jesus,” she said. Carvalho recently completed the dental program at Bahia Adventist College.

Unlike others who follow a more traditional path after graduation, Carvalho has decided to spend time caring for others through volunteer service. Thus, she went to volunteer at one of the regional offices of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), providing dental care to people who cannot afford it. The project is linked to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which provides aid to immigrants.

Bahia Adventist College has been part of Carvalho’s mission experience many times in the past. “The school has motivated us to use our talents and expertise while serving underprivileged communities,” she emphasized. “It has helped us to develop empathy, compassion, and to show God’s love for others.” The academic environment of the school also increased Carvalho’s interest in mission work, she said.

Twofold Mission

Besides Carvalho, Bahia graduate Yanessa Bispo has been an active part of service and outreach projects. Bispo shared how she and Carvalho provided free dental care to Venezuelan immigrants. Both young professionals assisted low-income families with overcoming the difficulties of finding medical care. Their experience was remarkable, according to Bispo. “One of the residents asked us to come back more often, since it was their only chance to get some dental care,” she shared.

In Bispo’s case, her decision to become a missionary came from sensing a need to help others and show kindness to them. “Hugging and smiling can make a world of difference,” she said.

Bispo suggests that those who want to get acquainted with mission service seek out people who are already part of such projects, ask questions, and start taking part in one of the service initiatives available. “Just start doing it, and don’t look back,” she said.

Knock Until They Answer

Luiza Caroline decided to dedicate her service to others, but in another location. In her case it was through an ADRA project in Ji-Paraná, Rondônia, in east-central Brazil. In addition to assisting with food baskets that take care of physical needs, the ADRA project is concerned with encouraging education and developing ways of obtaining income for the family. Through vocational courses, the project provides new opportunities for young people and adults who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Caroline spoke about the food distribution efforts that targeted low-income children around Easter time earlier in 2021. The distribution took place on a rainy day, and at one of the houses, nobody came to the door. One of Caroline’s partners didn’t give up and kept knocking. When someone finally answered, they found out it was a family in dire need.

“One person’s insistence helped a family have something to eat that Easter,” she said.

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.