Two Olds residents planned last week to head to Ethiopia in order to provide dental care for up to 400 children age five to 18.
Dentist Dr. Jared Ord, 39, and his wife, Lindsay Ord, 38, a registered dental hygienist, were scheduled to leave Olds for Addis Ababa, the capital of the east African country, on Feb. 12 (after press time).
They’re assessing these children, then providing basic dental work, like fillings, cleanings and extractions. In total, the team will include two dentists, one hygienist and one assistant.
The Ords had been looking for an opportunity to do some humanitarian work this year. Dr. Paul West, a close friend and classmate of Jared’s, gave them the idea to go to Ethiopia because they adopted a young boy from Ethiopia a couple of years ago.
During an interview with the Gazette, it was pointed out that there is a lot of ISIS-inspired terrorism in Africa. The Ords were asked if that was a concern for them.
“It’s in the back of my mind,” Jared said.
“We’ve looked up on government sites and Ethiopia’s fairly calm. Some of the surrounding countries, like Somalia, are not,” Lindsay said.
“There’s a risk when you travel anywhere, but I mean, it’s just part of what it is. We probably wouldn’t go into Ebola territory, West Africa,” Jared added.
Lindsay said friends have been there several times. And a humanitarian group that is helping to co-ordinate the trip has been in the country for years. It has a compound there.
“The house that we’re staying in is protected. They have a wall around it with razor wire and stuff like that,” Jared said.
Lindsay pointed out the vast majority of the children they’ll be treating will be coming to that compound, although the group will have to go outside it to examine and treat others.
The humanitarian group they’re working with has brought in medical doctors many times to work with the population there, but to the Ords’ knowledge, they haven’t brought over any dentists.
“Most of these kids have never seen a dentist before, so this is the first real dentist (they’ve seen),” Jared said.
The Ords estimate the trip will cost them about $10,000. That covers airfare, accommodation, as well as the licence to practise over there and other related expenses.
They’re also bringing over dental equipment – most of it new – which they plan to leave there for future dental procedures.
We have at least nine bags of dental equipment – worth probably twenty thousand to thirty thousand dollars (Canadian),” Jared said.
The Ords are hoping to raise money to offset the cost of that equipment. When interviewed, that site had raised about $8,000.
They’ve arranged for other dentists to look after their patients while they’re gone.
While the couple is in Africa, Lindsay’s mom is looking after their three children, ages 14, 12 and nine.
“She’s good about doing stuff like that for us, especially with us donating our time. It’s not like we’re going to Hawaii or something,” Lindsay said.
Initially Jared’s mother was rather worried about their safety but eventually got over that.
“When I told her we were thinking about going to Ethiopia she was quite concerned. I think she’s wrapped her head around it now. She actually donated to our thing, so I think that to me is like, finally she’s condoning our trip. Accepted is probably a little more accurate,” Jared said.
Lindsay’s mother was more accepting, Lindsay said, because the couple has travelled before.
The Ords have insurance for the trip, but before leaving, Jared said he was going to check and make sure they have enough.
They’ve taken steps to ensure their health while in Ethiopia – on top of the shots they normally take as dental professionals.
“We have had every shot imaginable it seems like, too. We had to get (shots for) dengue fever, typhoid,” Linday said.
“I’ve had eight different shots over the course of 18 months,” Jared said.
Plans call for the couple to work six days a week. However, they’ll have one day off (aside from travel days).
On that day off, they plan to visit a famous tourist site in the country, Lake Ziway.
“I’m so excited, because they don’t have safari-type animals there. But this Lake Ziway has tons of birds; they have hippos and things like that,” Lindsay said.
However, she said they won’t be swimming in the lake because they’ve been warned that might not be healthy.
The Ords are also looking forward to experiencing Addis Ababa itself.
“It’s quite interesting. There are some videos on YouTube of one of the main intersections in Addis (Ababa). There are no traffic lights. And it’s six lanes each way in all four directions – plus pedestrians. It’s quite exciting,” Jared said.
“We won’t be driving there,” Lindsay said with a smile.
But they noted the humanitarian organization has drivers/guards who will take them where they need to go.
If the trip is successful, Lindsay would like to return to the country.
“We want to check it out first and make sure that it is safe and things,” Lindsay said.
“If we go again in a couple of years, I’d like to maybe take our oldest son, have him come help in the clinic and see (conditions there). So that’s the long-term goal,” she said, noting it might help him gain an appreciation for where he lives.
“I can’t say I’ve ever done anything like this before but we’re looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a great experience,” Jared said.
“There are some videos on YouTube of one of the main intersections in Addis (Ababa). There are no traffic lights. And it’s six lanes each way in all four directions – plus pedestrians. It’s quite exciting.” JARED ORDLOCAL DENTIST