Dental Students Treat Mexican Children

October 28, 2016

Dr. Angie Rhodes, left, in a picture from her Project Mexico trip. Twenty years later, her longtime patient Roxie Braxton, right, would go on the same trip.

By Bradley Allf, Features Writer UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases

In 1996, Angie Rhodes spent her second summer of dental school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill providing health care and education to children living in an orphanage in Miacatlán, Mexico, as part of a program called the UNC Mexico Project. This summer her lifelong patient Roxie Braxton, now a third year dental student at UNC, went on the same trip.

Rhodes was thrilled when she learned that Braxton was going on the Mexico Project trip. “I knew that she would have an amazing experience and treasure her time there just as I still do,” Rhodes said. “The love and excitement hasn’t changed in 20 years!”

The UNC Mexico Project, which started in 1987, has a long history of service in Miacatlán. The project is a partnership between the UNC School of Dentistry and an international organization called Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) that provides homes for orphaned and abandoned children in Latin America.

NPH was started in 1954 by a priest named William Wasson who adopted a child convicted of stealing from his church in Mexico, rather than pressing charges. Over the course of that year, Wasson ended up adopting 31 more disadvantaged children and the program grew from there. NPH is now a multinational humanitarian organization, which has provided homes for thousands of children.

UNC has sent dental students to the NPH home in Miacatlán since 1987. These students provide dental care and education to hundreds of the children that live and study in the home. The project itself is three weeks long and takes place each summer around August. This year five students attended, along with Carolina Vera Resendiz, clinical assistant professor in the UNC School of Dentistry’s Department of Prosthodontics and an advisor for the project.

Learn more about UNC Project Mexico and read the full story on the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases website.