A group of area residents prepare to travel to Meto, Kenya as part of a mission trip — emphasizing dental screenings and education — sponsored by Integrity Worldwide. The group will spend 10 days in Meto. -- Tim Reeves

Mission group all smiles as they head to Kenya

Published 12:53am Friday, May 25, 2012

Of the 14 men and women now on their way to Meto, Kenya, 11 of them will be making their first trip. But, for those leading the Integrity Worldwide trip, and the doctors carrying out a special mission, traveling across the globe is becoming old hat.

“I have two trips to Honduras, one to Mexico and this will be my second trip to Africa, fifth mission trip overall,” Selma orthodontist Dr. Brett Wood said as his bags were loaded into a church bus and trailer. “Very excited. I’ve always heard about the ministry and it’ll be fun to see what Integrity Worldwide has been able to do in Meto.”

Wood will join another dentist on the trip, but one who has far more frequent flyer miles tied to missionary work.

“I get excited every time I head out one of these trips,” local pediatric dentist Dr. Donnie Russell said. “I think this is my 15th mission trip, but this is my first time traveling to Africa, so I am thrilled.”

Russell, who is also on the board of directors of Integrity Worldwide, has spent most of his mission-oriented work traveling to Central and South America, and has a good idea of the type of work he and Wood will face when they arrive in Kenya.

“These people have never seen a dentist,” Russell said. “When I say they never seen a dentist, I am not talking about never having an appointment, I’m saying they’ve never even laid eyes on a dentist.”

During the 10-day trip, Russell and Wood will not only spend time performing some procedures such as pulling teeth, but they will also focus on preventative dental care.

“We’ll do most surgery and take out teeth; some have had abscess teeth that have been there for years. We are going to try to relieve pain and are expecting to see hundreds of patients while we are there,” Russell said. “We will do home care, which is the best thing you can do anyway, preventative medicine.”

As for their equipment and set-up in Kenya, Russell and Wood are going prepared.

“We have this dental unit that weigh about 45 pounds, which will let us do just about anything we need,” Russell said, noting his daughter and son-in-law, Drs. James and Rayne Osborn, of Children’s Dentistry of Central Alabama, purchased the unit. “It’s the neatest thing you’ve ever seen.

“We got some beach chairs that we are going to use for dental chairs and an LED light with gooseneck stands. So we should be in good shape. It’ll be fun.”

Dr. Alan Hicks, president and CEO of Integrity Worldwide, is also on the trip, and has spent the past few weeks preparing the first timers on what to expect, and how to get ready for their first trip to Kenya.

“We have a list of what to take. We go over the sunscreen they will need, the malaria medicine they will need,” Hicks said. “We spend about four or five meetings indoctrinating them on what they need to do, what the customs are and what the culture is in Kenya.”

Hicks also said there was some important advice given to the missionaries about what to do before they left and when they get to Kenya.

“Eat well before they leave. They won’t really eat well until we get back,” Hicks said laughing. “We also told them to take care of the themselves like washing their hands, because there are a lot of communicable diseases. Be careful of what they eat because our systems are not used to the foods they prepare in Kenya.”

As for the money needed to fund the trip, Hicks said those participating worked to raise the funds needed, while much of the work in Meto is funded by other fundraising efforts such as the annual Integrity 5K in October and the upcoming Boston Butt sale in late June.

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