Thank you for taking an interest in this story and publishing the previous
two articles. I have been working as a co-ordination volunteer with Dr. Amil
Shapka, director for “Kindness in Action” on organizing this first ever
KIA project to Asia for the past 4 years. Yes, it’s taken that long! The
obstacles involved are another story in itself.
About ‘Kindness in Action’ - Dr. Shapka started
“Kindness in Action” in 1996 with a handful of like-minded persons after
a trip to Guatemala. Since then there are now over 200 Canadian dental
professionals who volunteer their vacation time and pay all their own
expenses in order to provide free dental treatment to those in need. Those
who may not receive treatment otherwise, in the form of restorative work (if
possible), extractions, scaling and cleaning and dental hygiene education
(focusing on the youth).
Since 1996, KIA is now providing these services on an
annual basis in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Belize and now for the
first time Thailand.
That’s the good news, but “unfortunately” there is
a possibility that KIA will not be returning to Thailand next year. Why?
The reason for this is certainly not the need. In fact
the need is great, as has been confirmed during our first trip. It’s not
beautiful Thailand and its wonderful loving people; the reason is
Traveling to these other countries is quite simply 3-4
times less expensive than coming to Thailand. Why?
Because there is a greater understanding and more
co-operation in those countries with respect to the need of limiting costs.
In the other countries our volunteers stay in the villages with the people
and share their food. This leads to a mutually rewarding and memorable
Secondly, there is no need to travel 3-6 hours everyday
to get to another “needy” village as was done here in Thailand. In other
countries there are enough people in an area that need treatment so there is
no need for extensive traveling and all the costs involved. This means less
traveling time so that the volunteer team is not overtired and more people
are able to receive treatment (more productive, after all that’s why
Thirdly, unlike Thailand, their governments do not hinder
our efforts. We need to pay a sizable fee in order to obtain a special
document, ATA Carnet, to register and bring our dental equipment into
Thailand. We are not allowed to bring dental supplies; they need to be
purchased here in Thailand. Whereas we have accumulated dental supplies in
Canada through donations from Canadian Rotary Clubs as well as other
sources, we are not allowed to bring them into Thailand which depletes our
finances even further.
There is a KIA annual general meeting in Edmonton,
Alberta - Canada in May 2004 which I will attend. Decisions will be made at
this time regarding a continued effort in Thailand. I believe the facts have
been laid out and I welcome you, your subscribers and any other interested
parties, who may take this to heart, to provide any suggestions prior to the
may meeting that may be beneficial in keeping this worthwhile mission alive.
Thank you - without the Chiangmai Mail this story
would not be revealed. I wish there were more people like you in the media
industry with the “human touch” and “truth”. That’s what the world