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Sept. 16, 2003

Links to the SOUTH SHORE

Dr. Kathleen Perkins of Milton has volunteered her services in Haiti.

athleen Perkins speaks little Creole.

“I can ask what hurts, say, ‘Bite down’ and, ‘Spit,’” the 29-year-old Milton dentist said.

When she was working in Fond des Blancs, however, Perkins had no problem understanding what many of her patients wanted: to smile proudly.

“You could make some of them so happy,” Perkins said. “They’d have black decay on their front teeth. To fix that up for them, they would be so happy.”

Perkins traveled to Fond des Blancs in June with the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation. She had been to Haiti twice before, both times to the city of Jeremie on the country’s southwest tip.

On those previous trips, Perkins said, she spent most of her time pulling teeth. In Fond des Blancs, she did that, too, but also worked with the St. Boniface Hospital’s full-time Haitian dentist doing fillings and root canals.

“You feel like you’re helping before you get to extractions,” she said.

Some of her patients had teeth rotted nearly all the way through, possibly from years of sucking on sugar cane when they had no food to eat.

None complained.

“Their tolerance for pain seems to be relative to what they deal with in their lives,” Perkins said. “Yet, still there’s pride. They want their teeth to look nice.”

Karen Eschbacher may be reached at keschbacher@ledger.com

Stories by
Karen Eschbacher
Photos by
Gary Higgins

The Patriot Ledger

A Daily Struggle to Survive: Volunteers help fight starvation in Haiti:

Haitian Burn Victim gets Aid - and a New Family

Faces of Haiti: The LaFontaine family

Links to the South Shore of Massachusetts: Milton dentist gives Haitians the simple gift of a smile

Haiti's History: Political instability chases away hopes of achieving better life

Personal Journal

Numbers That Count: Food & Nutrition

Small map of Haiti (90KB)

Large map of Haiti (100KB)

Photos from Haiti (462KB)

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