To give back more to his native country, in April Dr. Ed de la Vega and his nonprofit foundation constructed —then donated — a full-service dental clinic to an order of nuns working in the Philippines.
The Canoga Park, California dentist and longtime American Dental Association member, together with members of his Dentistry For Every Village Foundation, put the final touches on their building in the Northern Samar province before assigning it to the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedictine to run the operation.
Within two days of opening, the center had treated over 400 individuals.
“Many of the patients, particularly the very young and those in their early teens, had never seen a dentist before,” Dr. de la Vega said. That motivated him to build a second clinic, this time for an indigenous population in the central Capiz province. As it turns out, he is continuing a legacy that his late father, a dentist in the Philippines, started years earlier.
“For years, I wanted to do something to give back and make a difference,” Dr. de la Vega said. “Now … I am in the twilight of my dental practice, I have more time to do my humanitarian work, much like my father did many years before me.”
Dr. de la Vega had been back to visit his homeland many times, often attending professional dental conventions. As he encountered colleagues and learned of the nation’s struggle with access to oral health care, he became determined to help.
With his newest project completed, he can claim “mission accomplished.” The clinic will be open at least three days weekly and is equipped with modern digital X-ray equipment.
“The gleam in their eyes and the shy smiles on their faces after their problem is resolved speaks volumes,” Dr. de la Vega said. “It’s the best ‘thank you’ ever that I have received from anyone I have treated in my over 50 years of doing dentistry.”