Giving Gifts of Dental Health
Who would Santa be without his trademark sack of toys, slung over his shoulder as he scrambles toward the nearest chimney? This past Christmas, for dozens of impoverished kids in San Benito Petén, Guatemala, Santa arrived with a much different kind of bag: one carrying desperately needed dental supplies for themselves and their families.
In this story, “Santa” is Dr. Roberto Ceriotti—a benevolent and generous dentist from Brazil whose busy elves include his own mother and sister. And their workshop? Space donated by Father Giampiero De Nardi, a Salesian missionary serving in the city.
For several days during the holiday season, Dr. Ceriotti performed exams, cleanings and other dental care for those who otherwise could not afford it. In many cases, patients had never been to a dentist, or even knew what a dentist did.
This is the second year that Dr. Ceriotti has run a free dental clinic at the Salesians’ site—an act, Fr. Giampiero says, that reflects “the profound sense of things that Christmas should remind us of.” In a country struggling with almost incomprehensible levels of underdevelopment—more than 70 percent of Guatemala’s population lives below the poverty line, and the number climbs to more than 90 percent in indigenous areas—simple acts of humanity become priceless gifts. And these gifts extend to the missionaries themselves, whose resources don’t always match their desire to provide for the children and families in their care.
“Dr. Ceriotti knows what it means to put himself aside and worry about those who need it most,” says Fr. Giampiero. “I feel really small in the presence of this very good person who gives his time and talents to the people of San Benito Petén.”
Regardless of his own perceived stature, Fr. Giampiero and his fellow missionaries manage significant achievements of their own: thanks, in large part, to the spirited kindness of many friends like you. Together, you help our missionaries throughout Guatemala offer medical care, social services support, basic and secondary education, vocational training opportunities, and much more. As we reflect on our recent celebrations of Jesus’ birth, we are grateful for your compassion, which truly embodies His gift to the world.
Our mission provides the gift of health to those less fortunate. What’s your mission?