St Lucia (July 26, 2017)
Sandals Foundation has once again partnered with Great Shape 1000 Smiles Inc to offer first class dental care to Saint Lucians who, operating on tight budgets, may not necessarily give first priority to their teeth. The response to this initiative has been very positive and, as a result, the number of people who come in for treatment has increased each year that the Great Shape dental teams have visited the island; in 2015, over 800 people attended the clinics while almost 1000 persons registered in 2016. This year the numbers are already in excess of 500 with many more expected as the clinics are ongoing, offering free services in extractions, fillings and cleanings. A special bonus to the existing clinics this year is one set up at the Bordelais Correctional Facility, which houses over 500 inmates. This is in addition to the dental chair that was donated to the correctional facility earlier in 2017.
This year clinics have been set up in two communities in St Lucia: Marchand in East Castries and in Anse La Raye on the West Coast. Although Great Shape 1000 Smiles has worked in the Caribbean for over 15 years (concentrating in communities throughout Jamaica where Sandals Resorts operates), Saint Lucia became the first country outside of Jamaica that has received the benefit of free dental clinics in 2015. The Sandals Foundation collaboration with Great Shape 1000 Smiles forms part of a continued investment by the Foundation in the health of the people in the region, and to date, over US$3M has been invested in room stays for the participating team since the onset of the programme.
The strength of the Great Shape 1000 smiles programme lies in the commitment of the volunteers who donate their vacation time to this project. This year, the group is made up of 60 dentists, hygienists, engineers and support staff. Volunteer teams started arriving on July 17th, and clinics will end on July 28th 2017. The first team of volunteers left Saint Lucia on Saturday July 22nd 2017, after rolling up their sleeves and treating a number of people who were very appreciative of their services.
The Ministry of Health in Saint Lucia is also a partner of this project, and plays a critical role in facilitating the process for the arrival and departure of the personnel involved in the project.