It was September 2nd. The last day of the 1000 Smiles dental clinic in Grenada. That’s when Selina Stewart and her father walked in seeking help.
After a nearly three-year-long hiatus (due to the pandemic), the 1000 Smiles team was back in action. Dentists and hygienists traveled from the US, Canada, and beyond to provide desperately needed dental care for three weeks to more than 2000 Grenadians.
Selina’s father, Arnold Stewart, heard about the clinic at National Cricket Stadium from a friend earlier in the week.”When I reached I found out that the clinic was closed, I was like WOW.” says Mr. Stewart.
Tessa McLorraine, Great Shape! Inc.’s front desk coordinator, was the first to greet Selina when she walked in. Tessa was nearly moved to tears when she saw Selina’s front teeth.
“It was really heartbreaking to see this young girl, 15 years, about to lose her smile, her hope, and she kept her head hung the entire time. She did not smile and she didn’t want to take off her mask. You could tell that her self-esteem was down and she just needed a pick me up,” says Tessa McLorraine.
At that moment, Tessa knew she had to do something to help even though the clinic was closed for 2022. She rallied the volunteers in the clinic and implored them to devise a solution for Selina.
Thankfully, Dr. Kostantina Abate, aka Dr. Kosta (who had been volunteering all week), graciously stepped up to provide care. She explains, “It wouldn’t feel right for me to leave Grenada without helping this girl.”
“Tess brought Selina’s case to my attention,” says Dr. Kosta. “I asked her to take a look, and as soon as I saw her teeth – it was like a reflex. The only thing that came to me was that I had to help this child. Right away, we got to brainstorming as to how we could help her. We knew it couldn’t be at the clinic since they were already packing up.”
Mr. Stewart recalls that “God willing of her heart and mind…Tessa called one of the doctors, so they ended up doing the x-ray on her teeth and then from there they took it further.” In a quick turn of events, Selina and her father went from thinking they would be turned away to being told she could be helped the next day.
“Dr. Kosta Abate and her team not only provided restorative dental care to Selina on that day, but they changed the trajectory of Selina’s social personal, and economic life,” says Joseph Wright aka Papa Joe, Executive Director. They provided HOPE for a better today and HOPE for a better future.
“She’s 15 years old. She deserves to have a smile she can be proud of. No pain, so she can focus in school. She shouldn’t have to be socially conscious of her appearance at such a pivotal age in a young girl’s life,” says Dr. Kosta.
For Dr. Kosta, “A few hours of my time were nothing in comparison to years of this girl’s life.”
As for Tessa, who advocated for Selina to receive care that fateful day she said:
“At the end of the day, that’s what Great Shape! stands for. And I feel that’s what we came to do. Let’s do this one more time and give this girl a smile and the life that she deserves…the end result was amazing. That was the highlight of my entire trip.”
Below you can see how transformative Dr. Kosta’s care was for Selina:
Arnold Stewart recalls the moment he first saw his daughter’s new smile, “They finished with Selina’s teeth and she smiled. I looked at her and I was so surprised and happy.”
This story is one of the countless stories that illustrate the heart and dedication of our volunteers and the incredible impact they make every year.