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A new smile to the future!!!

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.

K.D. Standing in front the Earth Medicine's wall
K.D. Proud of his smile

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!!

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Kara Tepe, Centre for Refugees & Migrants, Lesbos T.K 81100, Greece.

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