There are more than 8,000 registered dentists in Africa, serving an approximate population of 1.2 billion people. That is a dentist-to-population ratio of 1:150,000. This statistical data shows how challenging it is for people on this continent to achieve dental health. Dental hygiene is something that needs to be valued and considered. Most people in these areas long for proper dental health, sanitation, and improvement of life; however, due to poverty and various challenges, these necessities seem impossible.
A group of dental practitioners saw the immense need for dental health care in these places and purposed to organize a program to help make a change and improve their lives. Meriam joined them; she is a Filipino dentist who grew up in the Philippines and dedicated her life to her mission of making people smile through proper dental health care.
Meriam’s life journey as a missionary started in high school. At an early age, she already had a dream of becoming an accountant. Her passion for math made her so interested in the profession, and she believed accountancy would be the best match for her.
During her high school years, Meriam got involved in different ministries in school, which led her to a deeper relationship with Christ. She has been reading the Bible and praying earnestly for God’s leading, and it was during these times that she understood God’s message for her. Meriam learned that medical missionary work is the right hand of the gospel, and through God’s healing, people will get to know how mighty and powerful our Savior is. This encouraged her to decide and become a missionary.
“I know taking a medical course is quite expensive, but my decision to take dentistry is something that encouraged me to do more for him and reach out to more people through the medical field,” Meriam said.
Despite the financial difficulties, Meriam decided to pursue her career in dentistry, and eventually, she could get her license to practice. She finished her degree in dentistry at the Adventist University of the Philippines. Her passion for learning dentistry, partnered with her love for the mission, was reinforced and amplified in the university.
Today, Meriam is part of a team reaching out to African families seeking healthcare services. She is a missionary dentist for International Caring Hands. They go to different places to reach people who need health assistance and encourage others to get involved in bringing the good news all over the world.
With hundreds of families living in places where there is no electricity or remote areas where it will take days for them to travel by foot to reach the cities, Meriam and other missionary dentists bring the dental clinic closer to them to service their needs and introduce the ultimate source of happiness, Jesus.
“We have dental trucks here that carry all our basic equipment to service people who need dental care. These trucks can power our x-ray machines and all our dental equipment. It’s just a blessing to see these people having the opportunity to receive dental services that they have not even experienced their entire life,” Meriam said. “To see them smile and get to introduce Jesus to them, it’s just an experience that no amount of money can buy.”
Let us pray for Meriam and other missionaries as they go and tell of Jesus in different mission fields around the world.