K.D is a 21 year old man from Afghanistan. He came to Lesvos without
any family, as many other young men do. In the Afghan culture, family
represents a strong supportive network especially for young people, and
having to confront alone difficult circumstances such as the dangerous
trip to Lesvos and the complex asylum process, can be extremely hard for
young men and they often struggle to stay strong and hopeful.
In order to protect K.D’s privacy, we are not going to share his story in
detail but it needs to be mentioned that he suffered for many years from
a health condition that not only affected his body physically in many ways
but also it had a deep impact on his self-esteem and confidence.
Fortunately, deep in his heart he knew giving up was not an option,
especially after everything he had been through before arriving here, and
he decided to seek help from a social worker from the organization
Caritas Hellas, which operates inside the camp. Ms Evanthia Theodori, his
social worker, has been an enormous support for him creating a network
of professionals who have assisted him during his process of recovery
including psychologists, health care and therapeutic professionals.
Ms Theodori came in contact with Earth Medicine in October 2022 and
presented K.D.’s case to us. Taking into account his very specific
individual needs both physical and psychological, we decided to support
him beyond our field of work, which is physical rehabilitation, and offered
to help him with the total dental replacement that he needed. He had lost
his upper frontal teeth a few years ago and this had the obvious
consequences of pain, difficulty eating and a propensity to infections; all
of which had negative repercussions on his general health. On top of this,
we could not ignore the fact that he was not able to smile or even talk
freely without feeling ashamed, which was damaging for his self-image
and mental health.
We contacted a local dental surgeon Dr. Maria Kokkini in Mytilini town,
and after examining the patient she gave us a quote for the total cost of
the treatment. Although the amount quoted gave us an initial shock, Dr
Kokkini gave us plenty and useful information to explain what needed to
be done and why, and we decided to do it.
K.D. Dental treatment process
Meanwhile Dr. Jens J. Paarsch who was volunteering at MCA inside the
camp, during October 2022, did a full dental cleaning for K.D., which
helped us also to avoid paying this treatment in a private clinic
Earth Medicine aims to focus on the individual needs of each patient,
understanding that not everyone has the same needs and not everyone is
in need of the same approaches. We are aware that numbers and
statistics of how many people we help are important parts of our work but
we have learned that when we solely focus on quantity rather than
quality, we are at risk of losing our capacity to understand and empathise
with other human beings. We believe that rather than giving in a spirit of
“charity”, ours consists of giving everyone the chance to empower
themselves in order to find hope for the future. In the case of K.D., we
could see that the impact of his dental condition in his physical and
mental health was great and that it was also affecting and would continue
to affect the opportunities he could have access to in the future.
As a humanitarian organization, we encounter very severe and obvious
cases of disability which need urgent attention but we have also learned
from experience that there are some cases, like this one, where the
urgency is not obvious to the naked eye but the impact of the condition
on the patient’s life and future is very great.
Thanks to the combined effort of a great team conformed by dentists,
social workers, and other actors, we finally accomplished our mission:
K.D. has completed his total dental replacement treatment. We have only
been able to finance this treatment because of the support of all those
who believe in our work and donate to Earth Medicine. It is thanks to their
generosity that K.D. can now eat anything he wants and look forward to
the future able to smile again.
Thank you very much!!