BEDFORD, N.S. – Two dentists who went on a five-day trip last month to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan to provide free dental care for refugees are now back home in Nova Scotia.
“It was hard to leave,” said Asile El-Darahali, who went on the trip with her sister Asraa.
“It was quite shocking, the fact that they have been living with chronic pain, and they don’t realize what it is to not have pain.”
The two volunteered at the Zaatari refugee camp, one of the largest communities in the country, as part of a trip by the Syrian American Medical Society.
The women, who live in Dartmouth, skipped lunch breaks to treat up to 20 patients per day, which is double the normal amount of people they treat. They paid $3,000 each for travel and accommodations.
They saw dozens of patients with a wide range of different dental problems.
“(One patient) told me that she had shrapnel wounds to her face, and that’s why, when she had surgery, they had to remove all of her upper teeth,” said Asraa.
Asile volunteers at a local dental clinic for people with low incomes and is no stranger to helping people in need.
They said they felt frustrated they only had enough time to help fix critical dental problems.
Before the trip, the two fund-raised $10,000 for dental equipment and supplies; part of that went into buying a dentist’s chair, which is staying at the camp permanently.
Asraa, who speaks Arabic, said the chair is a symbol “that Nova Scotians were with the Syrians.”
“If not in presence, then we were there in spirit.”
If there is still a need, both sisters said they plan to go back to help; they are also open to helping in other parts of the world.