BOCES Board Member visits Ghana on Medical Mission

Oswego County BOCES board member Donna Blake (Hannibal CSD) recently returned from Ghana after an 11-day medical mission trip.

Blake works for Northeast Dental Group, and splits her time between four offices in Onondaga and Oswego County.

Donna Blake cleans a child’s teeth during a medical mission to Ghana.
Donna Blake cleans a child’s teeth during a medical mission to Ghana.

Blake heard about the trip from a friend who had gone on a medical mission to India with Americans Serving Abroad Project.

Blake attended an ASAP meeting, met with the founder, Lauri Raupracht (RN) of Syracuse, and decided to volunteer. Blake was one of twelve who travelled to Ghana to offer healthcare services to remote populations.

Over the course of five days, the group visited five villages and provided service to 1,000 people.

Blake served as the only dental hygienist; the other volunteers were nurse practitioners, RNs and social workers.

Without electricity, Blake hand cleaned 250 children’s teeth, ranging in age from two to fourteen. She worked alongside a public health nurse from Ghana, who also helped with interpreting.

“Children’s teeth were not clean, having never owned a toothbrush, and yet there wasn’t a lot of decay,” said Blake.

Their diets consist mostly of carbohydrates, very little protein and no processed sugar.

Each child learned about dental hygiene and received a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.

Blake described the children as polite, appreciative and eager to learn.

After work, Blake spent some time with the children, teaching them the Itsy Bitsy Spider, going on evening walks and playing with bubbles.