Back in the summer of last year, I went to our (wonderful) dentist to get my daughter's teeth cleaned. Everyone there knew we were in the process of adopting our two children from Ghana, West Africa. They graciously OFFERED to give us enough toothbrushes so that all children in the orphanage could have one.
In October 2011, I finally set out to Ghana to bring Serwaa & Konto home. We spent a few days at the orphanage. On one of those days, 'Grandmother' (the orphanage directress) had all of the children line up to receive their new toothbrushes. (They have to be lined up, because there is usually a riot when things are being given away. The children are not bad children. Deprivation will cause anyone to act this way.)
One by one, the kids came up to proudly take their new toothbrush, say a very sincere thank you, then run off. (I wish I could've gotten pictures, but they ran off to hide their new toothbrushes as soon as they got them.)
It was so fun to watch them. Especially the teenagers. You see, most of the toothbrushes were children's
toothbrushes shaped like rocket ships. It was so sweet watch the teenage girls beaming from ear to ear as they accepted their rocket ship toothbrushes. There is a level of appreciation there that is rarely seen in America.
When the line finally ended, there were a few more toothbrushes left. They were given to random children we found in the street. (It's pretty easy to find kids wandering around by themselves. If they have parents, they are usually at work. The older kids care for the younger kids all day.)
Since my children have come home, I've heard lots of stories about their dental hygeine in Ghana:
- When they were very small, they lived in a small hut with their grandmother. At one point they had a
toothbrush. But the kids all had to share it. (Much of the family lived in a little village. Any cousins are considered brothers and sisters. So who knows how many kids were using The Toothbrush!)
- If you don't have a toothbrush, you burn a piece of old cloth until it is very black, then you chew on it. This is what Serwaa & Konto usually did when they didn't have a toothbrush.
- People very often chew sticks or roots, which helps to keep their teeth clean.
- Another way to clean teeth is to chew on burnt charcoal. My children used to do this, too.
- If you get a toothache, cavity, infection, etc.... you just live with it. That's not usually something you go to the hospital for. Even the children lucky enough to have access to medical care probably won't be seen by a doctor until the problem has become very bad.
And just because they are so adorable- here are some of the kids who received the toothbrushes from Cedar Bluff!
|Madwo, Ivy, Paul|
|Maame Kwadu, Ivy, Maame Faith, Emina|
|Owosua & Yaa Rose|
|Oleman & Askia|
|Amankwa & Paul|